Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tony Snow: The New Cape in the Bush Bull Ring

I'm all a-chuckle over the general description of Fox News pundit Tony Snow's appointment as the new White House Press Secretary as being part of the "White House makeover." Heh. It will take a lot more than lipstick to make that pig look pretty.

We have the most transparently secretive government in the history of this country.

We know that the Iraq policy was formulated by the Project for the New American Century in the nineties, and that the 9/11 attacks were the "convenient excuse" the neoconservatives in and around the administration were looking for to execute that policy.

We know that Cheney and others cooked the intelligence on Hussein's WMD, and that the Rove machine used White House friendly reporters like Judith Miller to spread disinformation to the American public through the mainstream news media.

And that's just where it starts.

What's more, as the polls show, the Bush administration's line of bull has run thin. Even American citizens who understand little to nothing about rhetoric and propaganda tricks know that every time administration officials and supporters open their mouths, they're blowing smoke.

Changing the color of the smoke by substituting Snow for McClellan won't change the perceptions of anyone but already terminally brainwashed, and their perceptions don't need changing, at least not as far as the White House is concerned.


The Bush administration's rhetoric has seldom reflected anything resembling reality. In that regard, they are typical of what Princeton Professor Emeritus Harry G. Frankfurt described in his celebrated essay "On Bullshit."
Both in lying and in telling the truth people are guided by their beliefs concerning the way things are. These guide them as they endeavor either to describe the world correctly or to describe it deceitfully. For this reason, telling lies does not tend to unfit a person for telling the truth in the same way that bullshitting tends to. ...The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

Thus it is with the Rovewellians. Facts and evidence matter not a whit. If you can come up with the right talking points, and speak them forcefully enough, and echo them often enough, the truth is irrelevant. Until, of course, you've bullshit your way through one too many truths, and all but the most gullible have caught on to you. At that point, hiring a bigger and better bullshit artist to talk to the press for you isn't going to do any good.


Speaking of bullshit artists…

I don't know how this happened, but I've gotten myself on a number of conservative publishers' e-mail lists. Maybe somebody was playing a practical joke on me, but whatever the case, I'm glad it happened, because all these right wing literature promos give an insight to the extent of the cognitive dissonance of the right wing mindset. One of these outfits--Human Events Online--just sent me a promo for Ann Coulter's upcoming book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

According to the Human Events promo, Ann "proves" that in The Church of Liberalism, abortion is a sacrament, Roe v. Wade is "holy writ" and Soviet spies like Alger Hiss are martyrs. Ann even "refutes" the sacred liberal myth of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

And all in one book!

For subscribing to the Human Events book club, you can get Godless--a $27.95 value--for free!

I find it an utterly fantastic fact of the American condition that a book by Ann Coulter costs $27.95 in an age when you can buy a leather bound copy of Shakespeare's complete works for $19.99.

A thousand monkeys pecking away at a thousand typewriters for a thousand years couldn't come up with a single one of Shakespeare's soliloquies. But they could probably produce something vastly superior to the complete works of Ann Coulter.


I just heard former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers say on MSNBC that Tony Snow will have to listen to "two voices in his head." One will no doubt tell him what incredible bullshit he's handing out to the White House Press Corps. The other one will be saying, "Take the money, then run to Ann Coulter's publisher, and take more money."

All the nonsense we're hearing about Tony's criticisms of Bush is, well, bullshit. At heart, he's a Coulter-class administration and neoconservative agenda supporter . On his Fox News show, he toed the company line about Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson, John Kerry and the Swift Boaters, liberal justices, George W. Bush's Vietnam era service, and much more.

Tony Snow is just a bigger, redder cape in the Bush administration bullring. We'll see how effective he is at continuing to fool the mindless beasts.


  1. As you said, Snow is just a new cape. Whether or not he truly mistrusts Bush (as some hopefuls have claimed after cherry-picking some of his criticisms of Bush) is immaterial. He signed onto the Titanic and he's bound to do what he can.

    I see two things as very interesting:

    1) Heretofore, Bu$hCo has always played offense with the press. They've always carried the war right into your backyard. I take it that by signing on Snow, they're hoping to present a public face of a "media professional" who can talk the jargon with the press. They expect a honeymoon period of some sort from the WH Press Corpse, a sort of professional courtesy to a guy who's "one of us" rather than "one of them." They're playing defense here, because they know just how vulnerable they are in the eyes of Americans.

    2) The honeymoon will be short-lived; much shorter than Bu$hCo expects. The Press smells blood and they will not be able to resist it. It will take perhaps three days before Snow loses all his credibility.

    He will smile and put on the act that he's one of them, expecting the sympathetic ear. But he will be pressed to push back, and I don't think the press will stand for it. He will burn his prefessional cred when he starts lying, and after all, lying is all Bu$hCo has going for it.

    This is like everything last thing Bu$hCo has done. They've misjudged the playing field, and are still in over their heads.

  2. Lurch:

    I was talking to a guy today who knows Snow and says he's about the nicest, most honest guy you'll ever meet (and the guy who said that is a Democrat). I think Snow is pretty well thought of on both sides of the aisle, at least among reasonable people. I trust the guy I talked to, so I know he wouldn't just bullshit me about it.

    It remains to be seen how good a choice Snow will be. It's true that he has been critical of Bush at time (for not being Conservative enough, mostly), but on the vast majority of issues he's pretty much in agreement with the administration.

    They guy is pretty well liked in Washington, primarily I think because he's a fairly good guy. I can disagree with him 90% of the time and still be open to the fact that he's a nice person. I've never met him, however.

    What you'll get from the blogosphere, primarily, are attacks on him (from the left one) simply because he took the job, without much regard for the truth of the matter. Who knows how he'll do in the end. I rather wish he hadn't taken the job, because like I said he's a pretty well-liked guy in D.C. and there's more potential here for him to hurt himself than not.

  3. by the way, Ann Coulter is a complete git. I don't know why anyone pays attention to her. She's a very bright woman, but that only tells me she can't possibly believe most of what she says. She's in it for the money. In short, a charlatan.

  4. Thanks for the conmmentary about Snow, Scott. I've also heard that he's a nice guy, so naturally I have to wonder what motivated him to hitch his wagon to a falling star. I also have to wonder why a nice guy works for Rupert "Green Card" Murdoch, who is so reptilian. Is it the money? Does he really think he can bring Bush and Murdoch to the good side of the Force? Misplaced idealism suffers quickly when involved with Bu$hCo.

    And yes, he might be a true conservative, and yes, we all recognize that Bush is not a conservative, but rather a financial opportunist. If this is all so obvious to us, one would expect it to be obvious to Snow, also.

    So, tell me: why has he sold out?

    I'm not even going to discuss Coulter. She makes the Haymarket bombers look like Mother Theresa.

  5. Lurch:

    I don't know the answer to those questions, but if I had to take a stab at it I'd say 1) I doubt he feels he's sold out, because like I said he agrees with the admin on the vast majority of issues; and 2) based on statements he's made about taking the job I suspect he feels he's going to have the opportunity to be at "ground zero" in terms of policy making, at least being able to get in the ear of the President whenever he wants (which was reportedly a requirement on his part before taking the job). Also, it occurs to me that since Bush's performance can have a direct effect on other GOP candidates this fall and in 2008, he may feel that he can do some overall good (in his assessment of good) for the GOP and Conservatives if he can help turn the tide, even a little bit.

    That's all just guesswork, however. Even though I tend to like the guy himself (based almost entirely on his radio show) I can't say I like his politics much so it's hard for me to put myself in his mind to try and determine his reasons. I am dismayed, however (thought not suprised) to see the guy getting raked over the coals by some simply for taking the job. We're at the point in this country where, for about 10% of the population on either side of the political fence (maybe its more than that) any person who takes a differing political position is "the enemy" and a bad person, etc. The "yer either fer us or agin us" attitude is unfortunate, and its alive not only in a completely insular, self-reinforcing presidential administration like this one, but its alive on the extreme end of the opposition party, and in the blogosphere (which one would hope would be a bastion of free speech, independent thought, and tolerance). That same mindset is even alive in this blog from time to time, and this one is a far sight better than most.

    Anyway, to continue to digress greatly, I know quite a few people in politics, I know a few Republicans, a few Democrats, a few third party. And one thing I know to be a fact is that there are a lot of very good, decent, and smart people on both sides of the aisle, including the side that supports the Bush administration. That's a hard thing for people to wrap their minds around, particularly if (like a lot of people) they're insecure in their own beliefs, or unsure of why they believe what they believe. An opposing philosophy or point of view becomes a threat to people. It is not only much easier to demonize, but it is a defense mechanism for some people. That's my take on it anyway.

    Back to Snow, and by way of a completely irrelevant comment, he had Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on the show a number of times because they both play the flute, which was cool. One reason I liked his radio show more than some was that he veered away from politics and into cool content like that. Though I have to admit I turned the show off on multiple occasions because of the politics (and the fact he was saying the same things I'd heard elsewhere and didn't like the first time).

    Anyway, I think he's nuts for taking this job particularly in view of having battled cancer for the last year. This is going to be an emotional and physical drain, I think.

  6. Simpler reason for Snow to take the job: are YOU gonna turn down a job with the White House (baggage or no baggage)?

    Didn't know that about Ian Anderson. Gotta give Snow credit there.

    You mean, "Ann Coulter's upcoming book, Shameless: The Church of Charlatanism"...?

    She's an industry; she knows it. Michelle Malkin SO wants to be Ann.

  7. Yeah, Coulter is a sham, I think. You can't be as smart as she is and still say the assinine things she says without doing it purposefully. She's making a bundle at it, though. Can't stand her myself.

    Of course, Snow is nothing like Ann Coulter. The comparison made is ludicrous on its face.

    I haven't heard Snow play the flute, but I suspect he's not as good at it as Ian Anderson :) It was a cool show, though.

  8. Ludicrous on its face? I agree Tony isn't quite the shrill bitch Ann is, but he replaced her at the Arizona Star as the conservative op-ed columnist.

    Ideologically, they're pretty close.

  9. Ideologically is one thing, but Ann Coulter is a rancorous, nasty person, and a sham to boot. There are plenty of people who you can compare Snow to "ideologically." The only reason you chose Coulter is because of the extremely negative connotation surrounding her (and well-deserved I should add). You put the two in the same sentence hoping the negatives from one will stick to the other. This is not an uncommon tactic in debate and/or persuasive writing.

    As an aside, did you guys all see that Condoleeza Rice has a 57 percent favorability rating, whereas the rest of the admin is in the tank? I'm giving this some thought, particularly since it tracks my own views. I tend to have a generally positive view of Rice and a generally negative view of the rest of them. Bears some exploration I think. If she keeps that up, the GOP may draft her for the nominee in 2008 (though the hard right will throw a fit - she's pro choice after all).

  10. Scott, I agree with you about many things, but not about Rice. Favorability ratings have to do with perception, not competence. She's been almost as incomepetent as Mr Bush in every position she's worked in, going all the way back to Stanford.

    And, for the record, I don't think Mr Bush is planning on leaving the White House in January, 2009.

  11. Lurch:

    That's true about the distinction between favorability rating and competence, but which one if more important in terms of getting elected? If a large number of people have a favorable impression of someone running for office, that person stands a good chance of being elected, even if they are incompetent.

    I don't know whether Rice was incompetent at Stanford or not, but I have to at least admire what she's done with her life, particularly going from her unauspicious beginnings.

    As for Bush not leaving the white house - he'll leave. There's no chance, in my opinion, not even a slight one, that he won't. That's my opinion, but I guess we'll have to see. I don't think anyone in the country, not even this admin's (or any admin's) most ardent supporters would sit still for someone refusing to step down once a term is ended. Never happen :)

  12. navywife2:45 PM

    "particularly going from her unauspicious beginnings."

    You have got to be kidding me. The following bio is hardly what I would call auspicious beginnings.

    "Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama[in 1954], and is the only child of Angelena Rice and the Reverend John Wesley Rice (Jr.). Her father was a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and her mother was a music teacher.".[1]

    In 1967, the family moved to Denver when her father accepted an administrative position at the University of Denver."

    I wish I was born under such auspicious conditions. Being born in Alabama is not an "auspicious" beginning in itself. Being poor in Alabama, with a father that didn't work for a University, but instead as a maintenance guy at a machine plant is a different thing. But I guess that is why I find myself as a Navy wife and not some ivy league graduate.

    And as far as Tony Snow goes, he has come out and apologized for all past comments that criticized the President.

    On "Special Report with Brit Hume", host Hume held an exclusive interview with new White House Press Secretary and former Fox employee, Tony Snow, where Snow revealed he regretted previous criticism of George Bush.

    Btw, I love your work Commander.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Rather than my own long-winded comment, here's a link you can read:

    They may not have been so poor by the time Condi came along, but if you can't recognize the obstacles that existed for blacks and how much she's accomplished over her life, then you're so blinded by your personal dislikes that you can't even think straight.

  15. navywife3:53 PM

    I am from Alabama. I know what it is like. I am not black, but I am not stupid either. But the fact is that she did not have the struggles that the majority of black families in Alabama had and are still having. I didn't grow up in Birmingham, I grew up in the southern impovershed part of Alabama. The town of 7000 that I grew up in is 50% African American and currently has an average family income of 15,000 a year.

    But the fact that she grew up in Alabama and was black does not automatically make her some kind of hero. If she had overcome adverse conditions of poverty like so many people I have met in Alabama, then I would say that was something. But she had more opportunities than most of us Alabamians. It is not always about skin color. Sometimes, it is all about wealth. The fact is that the African American people that I know in Alabama, the ones who grew up dirt poor, and still have nothing, and never had the opportunities that Rice has had, see her as turning her back on all the ones that have been left behind and forgotten in Alabama.

    She was buying shoes while people in New Orleans were dying! She is not a nice person, she could care less about her roots or the struggles of the great leaders like MLK that have given her the ability to achieve what she has in her life.

    I am tired of this. Why the hell don't we just let them start another war. It is Rice's job to go all over the world and try to convince other countries to get on board when we have a country in our sites. Maybe one of these countries will blow up a couple of our carriers. Maybe my husband will be put to rest at sea in one of them. And then I can reflect on what a nice person Condy is! I can say, I am so happy for her being from Alabama and overcoming adversity so that she could grow up to start wars that killed my husband! That would be grand!

  16. Hear, hear, navywife.

  17. Nice post, navywife. I'm not applauding you for appearing to put Scott down, because I have the sense you were just trying to correct a misapprehension he had, and were trying to explain it to him in fuller way. We do try to play nice here, after all.

    Thanks for the brief look into the culture and economics of southern Alabama, also. My prayers and best thoughts for your husband. Let him come home to you healthy and safe.

    And, Scott, I can describe at least three distinct scenarios wherein Mr Bush is still occupying the Oval Office in February, 2009, and for quite some time afterwards.

  18. navywife5:40 PM

    You are exactly right. I was not trying to put anyone down. That was definitely not my intention.

  19. Lurch:

    Yes, I know there are scenarios whereby he could try to remain in office, I just don't think any of them will come to pass. I suppose we'll no more as time goes on, but I find that action on his part highly improbable. Hopefully I'm right and you're wrong :)

  20. i can't believe i just wrote that....