For years we watched Tony Snow on Fox News. He was fair in reporting and persuasive in arguing a point and advocating policy. Though we never knew him personally, we always knew him to be a strong and ardent defender of conservatism. He was a good example.
In the aftermath of the Scott McClellan disaster, Tony Snow was, well, awesome. Longtime observers of the office of Press Secretary say Tony Snow was the best ever. And he was very good in a very difficult time for the Bush Administration and the country. He was loyal and competent and very, very good.
Today’s Political Diary (h/t: S. Lybbert) ran a few pieces about Tony Snow which seem only appropriate to reproduce here.
John Fund on Tony Snow:
It took C-SPAN only a few hours after news that Tony Snow had died to begin airing the last major public speech he gave — a closing address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last February.
The former White House press secretary was at his rhetorical finest in telling conservatives: “We’ve got more work to do and we have to do it as a team.” He directly addressed those conservatives who were considering not supporting John McCain as the Republican nominee by suggesting they see a bigger picture. “You want to make every pundit look bad? Then stand tall for what you believe. Don’t be shy. You want to stun the establishment? Then become a mighty force for conservative principles, and tackle the task with confidence and cheer. . . .This may be a time of testing. But it’s not our swan song. Not by a long shot. Instead . . . this is our moment. This is the time to do what we do best — turn adversity into strength.”
It didn’t take long after C-SPAN aired this speech for a viewer to call McCain headquarters and urge them to run excerpts at the Republican convention in Minneapolis as part of a tribute to the departed White House aide. Don’t be surprised if Tony Snow is called on to rally the troops one last time.
“[Tony Snow] wrote, he edited, he wrote speeches, he hosted television shows and radio shows and gave endless speeches. In all these pursuits he was agile and deft and successful. But I think it’s safe to say that it turned out Tony’s greatest achievement was his time as White House press secretary. At this crucial job, a central one in American political life, he proved to be the best — the best ever, without qualification. He could speak with fluency, honesty, wit, and clarity on every subject under the sun; he remained poised, unruffled . . . sure of himself at the podium in the press room. Tony was a fascinating type. He was, literally, the opposite of a paranoid. He was a ‘pro-noid.’ He assumed people liked him. It is a rare quality for any person. It is almost unheard-of in Washington”
On Saturday conservatives lost a strong voice for their ideas and the world lost a thoroughly decent man. I knew him in a different capacity. I got to know Tony nearly a decade ago through a mutual friend, Ken Smith. Ken, the deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Times, himself died of liver cancer in July 2001. An article Tony wrote in response to Ken’s death couldn’t help but come to mind this weekend. “Suffering often does grotesque things to people: It transforms them physically and spiritually; twisting the body and desiccating the soul. But Ken never became bitter or morose. He didn’t milk his plight to elicit pity,” Tony wrote.
Ken remained himself, shared his kindness and never let on how much pain he was in. Later Tony would say that by keeping his dignity, facing his terminal cancer with the same conviction that he had used to build his life, Ken had performed one last service: He showed us all how to face our own mortality. A few years later, Tony returned to Ken in a column headlined “How to Be Sick.” He wrote: “There are things far worse than illness — for instance, soullessness.”
I last saw Tony several years ago as he was heading out the door of a Starbucks in Alexandria, Va., on his way to work. He wasn’t rushing. He had time for a man who was asking for spare change. Tony reached into his pocket, dug out several coins and at least one bill and handed it to the man. I saw Tony step closer to the man and heard him ask how he was. As the door closed, I couldn’t hear what else he said, but as Tony walked away both were smiling.
*UPDATE 17 July 12:22pm PST: Today a funeral will be held for Tony Snow. In honor of the man and in addition to what we posted earlier, check out this NRO Symposium.
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