Tony Snow was loved by millions who watched him work as a political commentator, and his struggle with cancer over the last three years, to the extent he spoke of it publicly, showed him to be a man of immense courage and an amazingly positive outlook on life.
Snow studied philosophy at Davidson college and philosophy and economics at the University of Chicago before moving into journalism and eventually replacing Scott McClellan as George Bush's Press Secretary in May of 2006. He battled a recurrence of colon cancer - he had his colon removed in 2005 - from almost the start of his tenure at the White House and finally succumbed to complications from the chemotherapy early today.
It's a shame that on the occassion of his death at the age of 53 his life has been tarnished by essays like that of Douglass K. Daniel at the AP who evidently found it difficult to write about Snow's death without taking a few cheap shots at him:
With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster's good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook - if not always a command of the facts - he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.
This is the sort of hit-and-run insult that causes many people to simply abhor so much of the media. If Daniel isn't going to explain what he means by lacking a command of the facts, why say it? Why, on the death of a good man and father, someone who tried his best to serve his country, take an unsubstantiated swipe at him? It's easy, I suppose, to impugn the professionalism of someone who's no longer around to defend himself, but it reflects poorly on the character of the one who does it.
In that year and a half at the White House, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president's policies. During daily briefings, he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.
In other words, he refused to roll over for the media as did his predecessor. In retaliation for this insufferable l�se majest� Daniel portrays Snow as a narcissistic harpy.
Critics suggested that Snow was turning the traditionally informational daily briefing into a personality-driven media event short on facts and long on confrontation. He was the first press secretary, by his own accounting, to travel the country raising money for Republican candidates.
Daniel seems resentful that Snow outshone the media stars in the White House press corps, and, like a jealous Middle Schooler, he seems to want to get back at the one who draws more attention than he does.
Although a star in conservative politics, as a commentator he had not always been on the president's side. He once called Bush "something of an embarrassment" in conservative circles and criticized what he called Bush's "lackluster" domestic policy.
Daniel seems to assume that if one is a conservative he should be expected to support President Bush one hundred percent. If he he's not assuming that here then why is Snow's dissatisfaction with some of Bush's policies worth mentioning? George Bush is not himself a thoroughgoing conservative, but even if he were, why does Daniel think that conservatives are ideologically monolithic?
Most of Snow's career in journalism involved expressing his conservative views.
No kidding. Imagine that. And what views does Daniel think a conservative writer should express?
How rigorous is the course work these days that journalists have to pass in order to get hired by the AP?RLC