Thursday, May 04, 2006

Late Spring Snow

Widely touted as a breath of desperately needed fresh air in the increasingly fetid White House halls, it remains to be seen whether Tony of the Glittering Teeth (disclosure: I wish I had his teeth) will really make a difference to the President's image and by implication the image of the Republican party.
Which is what his appointment is all about anyway--Snow is supposed to provide a delightful sparkly cool frosting over the parched and arid landscape nurtured by Bush's gangrene thumb. But judging from a leaked memo even before he's officially appeared in his new capacity, this Snow's moisturizing is already evaporating before any new growth might spring up ( sorry, I think I just beat the metaphor to death, then cut out its heart and stomped on it).

Anyway here's Tony "Wintery Fresh " Snow on his own words, with comments (thanks to the leaker, ABC and The Note):

To: Josh Bolten, Dan Bartlett and Nicolle Wallace
From: Tony Snow
Re: Our message

(Ghastly preamble preceeds the following )

The number one thing we need to do is RE-HUMANIZE THE PRESIDENT. All my other suggestions are just variations on that theme. People WANT to like this President, and we need to give them more chances. They love the regular guy thing that worked so well for you in the first campaign, and we need to tap back into that on a regular basis as a fundamental part of our communications strategy, not a when-can add-on.

An actual regular guy is inherently likeable. A manufactured one is not. And as Bush himself said, “fool me twice…uh…won’t get fooled again”. It’s not Bush’s overall personality that his former supporters now object to; it’s his policies and his actions. People want the President to stop lying, stop spying and stop the dying. People don’t want a “regular guy”, they want a competent and responsible god-damn President!

There's nothing the Press shop can do about facts on the ground, but we can HELP people remember why they originally liked the President so much.

It was because back in 2000 most people didn’t know what a lousy Governor he was and no-one, not even the most rabid lefties could imagine how much he would fuck things-up.

In December and January, Dan and Nicolle did a great job of getting the President out more, talking to the pool nearly every day and answering all those questions from the good red-blooded, red-stated Americans who come to our events.

These would be the red-blooded, red stated (sic) Americans who ask such “questions” as; “We love you, President Bush” and “It’s great to have a man of faith in the White House”. Yup , Bush showed his mettle in those moments, that’s for sure.

There have been lulls in this strategy as plans got overtaken by the news and the schedule, but we need to make it a priority instead of an if-can. I know the President was reluctant to do the questions from the general public, concerned that he would say some tiny thing that the press would blow it up into some huge deal. But he has nailed nearly every one of these outings, and I know he now enjoys them and has gotten more confident.

So Tony, you’re saying that the President is great in front of a partisan crowd, but afraid of a bi-partisan crowd? He’s a ‘fraidy cat?

I know you realize the dirty little secret: Truly nasty questions, ones the President can't defuse with his quick wit, are rare. And when we DO get asked them, we get brownie points for openness. So these free-for-alls are almost can't-lose propositions.

Dirty little secret? That Bush can't answer a reasonable question and that his "quick wit" is indeed rare--bordering on non-existent?
Nasty questions like “Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No?” or truly nasty questions like “Where are the WMD? Where’s OBL? How much did you say the war would cost again? How can you say the economy is strong when the deficit is at a record high, cost of living is up, wages down, and no net new jobs have been created—what the hell standard are you applying?

Similarly, the President should take questions from the pool all the time. For him, this is just batting practice. With all due respect, all press corps are predictable.

Especially when they are padded with people like Guckert and that asshat Les

And when we give them two questions, I'll go back to my radio show if I can't usually predict what they're going to be. But it makes it harder for the press to rag on the President when they're in close touch with him, and it's an opportunity for us to remind people of our message.

So the plan is to bribe with access? How novel!

When we don't answer questions, it looks like we believe the critics. We want to be out there at every opportunity, like my uncle at Thanksgiving dinner, saying: And ANOTHER thing. . .

No, it looks like you refuse to tell the truth or have no rational argument---you are either lying or you are just crackpots who don’t give a fuck about the people you are supposed to be serving..

The President looked strong and decisive swinging a hammer down in New Orleans for a few minutes the other day. If he wants to, and I bet he'd be thrilled, let's suggest that he spend a whole day working down there, and really have something to show for it.

Better yet, let’s get him over to Iraq and have him personally restore the sewage and electrical systems there. Zowee! That would look great!

I understand we had to call an audible and make that quick stop at the BP station to make the statement about CAFE standards, but that became the news and drowned out the real empathy the President had shown for the folks on the Gulf Coast.

Like showing up 3 days late ( just like 9-11) and using much needed generators to light his photo-ops.

You know how he likes working up a sweat at the ranch. Let's remind people that he's not trapped at the desk. He got along great with the workers down there—I saw the video of the back pats and the shared jokes. That's the George W. Bush we need to showcase.

Yeah let’s have the most absent President ever spend even less time Presidentin’’. Cutting down on the already limited time he puts into his job should result in less future fuck-ups---it’s a win win!

One of the most important changes I'd like to make in the operation is to empower the other spokespeople so they can develop relationships with reporters and work with them on stories and give them guidance and tidbits we might not be able to dispense from the podium. In my canvassing of reporters, I've learned that the only spokesperson who had any real rapport with the press was Trent Duffy. That's not helpful to the President. We need our spokespeople to be proactively reaching out to A-list reporters, which gives us a ripple effect of good will as they talk to others in the press corps and reach their large audiences.

In other words, increase the anonymous sourcing and exploit further the already sympathetic channels to swamp the media with more propaganda instead of truth.

As far as the podium: Josh, that was sheer genius of you to float the idea of cutting back on on-camera briefings. Obviously, we can't do that, because it would make the White House look like it was going backwards instead of forwards, and like we had something to hide, when in fact I wish we could open all the doors and windows and have every good American just walk on through. But now when we spell out our policy on briefings, it'll look like we took the press's side.
Josh, that was a brilliant yet sucky idea. You deserve the Congressional Medal of Suck for that. Maybe we could get a couple of those made up. No, make it a dozen—two dozen, we’ll probably need them.

There are two tweaks I'd make to the briefings, though. One, we need to reengage the press by really making some news from the podium.

In other words, I Tony Snow, should get to announce the next war first. Or make some shit up. Either way.

We need to have people literally running out of the briefing room to file bulletins or do a quick hit from the lawn. Muscles atrophy if you don't use them and the podium is a powerful platform that we should be using the heck out of. I'm amazed at how empty the briefing room sometimes is when it is shown on the cut-away shots. We need to remind this press corps that with this reenergized White House, if you snooze, you lose. Second, let's take a page from the Pentagon and the mega-churches and include some electronic and graphic elements in our presentations.

We don't want to be predictable, and a clip that provides a preview of the next day's event might give us two pops where we would have gotten only one.

Yup, previews in no way contribute to predictability—as long as we follow the prior practice of hinting declaring one thing and then doing the opposite.

A quick housekeeping matter: We need to assure the young people in the Press Office right away that we need them and are going to keep them and if anything are going to expand their responsibilities. They're understandably worried about change, and they shouldn't be. I understand I'm not an expert on operations, and I value their expertise and will defer to them. The Press Office wouldn't run without your Nathan Carletons and Carlton Carrolls and John Robertses. And we can only dream of having the approval rating of Josh Deckard. Let's make sure the Press Office knows we're still a team and that I think they're all starters.
Thank you for letting me vent. I'm thrilled by this opportunity, and look forward to the day, not far down the road, when all of America sees this President as we do.

And not as he is: an ingnorant spoiled child.

And by the way: Let's have a little fun!

It's only the most economically and militarily dominant country in the world we're running here, but what the hell? Don't be so serious kids! What's the worst that can happen?

Your friend, colleague, and servant, Tony

So there you have it--Tony Snow is not just a dick because he's a Bush fan; he's a dick, period.

A late spring snow is usually a surprise but it only changes the appearance of the landscape for a day or two. It is only noticeable for being an irrelevant freak of circumstance. And that's Tony Snow.