Tony Snow taking over for Scott McClellan as White House Press Secretary; seemed like a real winner to rally the President’s conservative base-- right?
Part of the administration’s “cosmetic” shake-up—facing toilet-plummeting approval ratings, they were trying to remove some of the old faces from the White House; the faces regularly associated with failure and corruption. Rove was moved down, McClellan was moved out.
And telegenic Bush loyalist Snow takes over for him. Conservative credibility? Hey, the guy was a regular guest host on the Rush Limbaugh Show—say no more! News experience? Snow hosted his own radio show on Rupert Murdoch’s pro-Bush Fox News Network, hosted Weekend Live on the Fox News Channel, and hosted Fox News Channel’s News Sunday for years.
Snow’s a conservative “newsman.” So who’s more qualified to serve as press secretary to a conservative president facing disastrous approval ratings? He’s got to be a natural, right?
I just finished reading a press account of Snow’s first day on the job.
It’s surreal; it sounds like something I might have made up for this blog. “Snow offered a half-dozen apologies for a less-than-smooth debut, pleaded ignorance on seven questions and ruled out all talk of international or currency issues.” All in just 23 minutes with the press!
To be fair, hey—it was his first day. And I wasn’t there; I’m never invited to these things. So I just have to do what I usually do—take the news account and paraphrase a bit, take the ball and run with it, you know… So here’s how I think it went:
Snow: Oh, jeez… I didn’t think there’d be so many of you guys… guess I shouldn’t have held this thing in my office…my goodness, there must be a dozen of you guys in here, I’m sorry we’ve only got the two chairs—
Journalist: There’s another dozen waiting out in the hall, Mr. Snow, and they’re getting kind of pissed—
Snow: Well, I’m sorry about that, I just wanted to keep it kind of cozy. To tell you the honest truth, I didn’t think there’d be this much interest in what I have to say, I’m just the White House Press Secretary, you know—anybody want a donut? We got some donuts in here, somewhere, I know—
Journalist: The guy from ABC ate the last one.
Snow: Shoot. Well, now that I know we’re going to get this kind of turnout, I’ll book a bigger room next time, and there’ll be donuts and coffee for everyone, I promise.
Snow: Alright, let’s cut the sarcasm and try to keep this collegial, shall we? After all, I was a newsman, just like you guys, I was on the Fox Network—
Snow: Okay, come on, cut it out. Let’s get this thing started, the sooner we get it started the sooner it’ll be over. First off, let’s set a couple of ground rules—no questions about foreign policy.
Snow: Believe me, I’m doing you guys a favor. I don’t know jack about foreign policy, I’m just not qualified to discuss it. The President hasn’t been any help, that’s for sure. All those foreign names, it makes my head spin. I can't make head nor tail of it. And I don’t want any questions about currency issues, either. I just don't get that stuff, the “yen” and the “pound” and Canadian coins, I don’t know my ass from my elbow about currency, I don't do math, either, so don’t even try it.
Snow: Other than that, fire away. I’m ready.
Journalist: What can you tell us about the President’s proposal for more tax cuts?
Snow: I don’t know.
Journalist: Will the President continue to stand by Karl Rove if he’s indicted?
Snow: I don’t know.
Journalist: Is it true that some House Republicans campaigning for re-election in the fall are turning down chances for photo-ops with the President?
Snow: Don’t know.
Journalist: Will the White House move to put in controls on gas prices this summer, prior to the fall elections?
Snow: Gas prices, wait a minute, I got something on that, they gave something about that at my briefing, I got some notes on my desk. Excuse me, please…Excuse me, comin’ through, I’m trying to get back to my desk, can you let me through here, please? And don’t bring that boom mike in here anymore, it’s just not practical, okay…(going through papers on desk) Gas prices, gas prices… umm… (smiles brightly, holds up paper) Found it! (reads) On gas prices… (frowns, looks up) Don’t know.
Journalist: Is the President planning to meet with the new Israeli government?
Snow: That’s a foreign policy question. What did I say about asking me foreign policy questions?
Journalist: Well, the Israelis might be sending someone here to the US to meet with the President, if they do that’s a domestic question, right?
Snow: (pause) Are you trying to trick me? Anyway, look—I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Journalist: Rupert Murdoch, the head of Fox News, is throwing a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. What is the White House reaction?
Snow: You’re shittin’ me.
Journalist: No, I’m not. I just read it on the Internet.
Snow: Rupert Murdoch?
Journalist: Yeah, Rupert Murdoch.
Snow: Jesus, if HE jumps ship…
Snow: (rubbing his eyes with his hands) Wait a minute guys, I just heard, you gotta gimme a minute with this—
Journalist: Tony, what’s the capitol of Maryland?
Snow: I don’t know. Hey...you trying to be a wise ass or something?
Journalist: Tony, I gotta currency question—
Snow: I just got through telling you I’m not answering currency questions, for Christ’s sake—
Journalist: Ah, come on, it’s easy. How much cash have you got on you, right now?
Snow: I don’t know, forty, fifty bucks, I have a cash card, too, I—Alright, that’s it. Everybody out! Now!
Journalist: Ah, come on, Tony, he was just kidding—
Snow: I don’t have to put up with this shit, get out! Out!