Chicago Sun-Times
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Tony Snow: ``Policy time''' at the White House.


White House Press Secretary Tony Snow reflected over a Thursday breakfast with reporters—about 50 of them—that he is the only presidential spokesman who has ever been a radio, television and print journalist.

Seated before an assortment of tape recorders plopped near his plate, Snow, after talking awhile, notice that one tape ran out, something a working reporter would care about.

The lumbering old fashioned machine that turned off ith a loud click was mine. With a flourish, Snow made a point of taking out the tape cassette, flipping it over and punching it back on. Just a service he provides.

Unlike the regular White House briefings, the reporters at the breakfast, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, shot Snow some questions off the main news stories of the day—about how he works, his sources and methods. The session started with a polite complaint—that Snow in his briefings and the president always call on the same people—from the top tier news organizations who get reserved prime seats in the first two rows, no matter what. Snow said it was a``legitimate complaint’’ (of course it is!) said is was a ``problem’’ and said he would encourage the president to spread it around.

Snow has a Chicago connection: he attended grad school at the University of Chicago but never completed a degree.

On to more:

Snow’s operating philosophy: ``If we spin you, we die.’’

Snow’s operating philosophy: ``If we spin you, we die.’’

``I suppose if there is an operative philosophy for me, it flood the zone. One of the things that I think makes my job easier and yours is to get the information out and I’ve this conversation with many of you so far. We are busy beefing up the staff and beefing up our ability to get stuff out. And I think we also understand that if we spin you, we die. So I think it is important to get as much stuff to you in as straight a manner as possible.''

On policy formation: The White House calls it ``Policy Time.’’

``The policy process in this White House is pretty open. There is a regular feature called `Policy Time.’ At which you have the president and most of the senior staff seated around the table along with people who expertise in the area being discussed.'' (On Wednesday, the subject was the economy.)

President Bush’s Legacy: Wait a few hundred years

``The president is not really a legacy guy. I can just deal with all the legacy questions right now because he is fond of pointing out that last year he read three biographies of George Washington who has been dead for 207 years (and) is still a subject of reappraisal.’’

If the popular Washington’s legacy is still being debated, the idea of Bush going to ``..retire to Crawford and somehow know what your legacy is is pure folly.’’

What’s at stake in the midterms?

``Congressional majorities…The president on a regular basis is calling in cabinet secretaries and saying ok, we got two years and x months. (Chief of Staff) Josh Bolten has that clock with how many days. And the message Josh has sent out to one and all is you can’t wasted a day’ The approach of this president is to sprint to the finish. You also do not have the situation that has been common in most recent White Houses, which is a vice president with presidential aspirations.’’

It’s the first time in more than 50 years. With Vice President Cheny not in play there is an ``opportunity for a much aggressive two years than we are accustomed to seeing.’’

Genocide in Darfur: Discloses back channel diplomacy. But can’t say what.

"There are behind the scenes, ongoing diplomatic efforts to try to put together the right kind of coalitions of influence that will enable a blue-helmeted UN force to enter Darfur. The president has been speaking about Darfur for a very long time. And has been pressuring the United Nations, pushing the United Nations to acknowledge the genocide that is going on and to act aggressively to deal with it.

`` He is continuing to do so. There is considerable behind-the-scenes diplomacy taking place right now that I am not at liberty to discuss but at some point will become, will become known. But let me just assure you that the president has been very actively engaged. This is something about which he is very passionate. He brings it up all the time and worries about it. But sometimes also to achieve these things is to work quietly behind the scenes with people who may be able to help you out on that and that is what he is doing."


On Tony Snow's Chicago Connection: Since it is so well known that many of the "neo-conservatives" attended the University of Chicago and were tutored by Leo Strauss and some of his disciples, it would be of interest if Tony Snow had some of the same philosphical inclinations as the Straussians.

Also, since it was reported by Sidney Blumenthal in his book, "Clinton Wars" written a few years ago, that Tony Snow was the person who introduced Linda Tripp to Lucianne Goldberg to get the Monica Lewinsky story out to boost the push for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, does Mr. Snow have any regrets about his role in that affair, especially since his present boss, may possibly be facing the same type of situation as President Clinton, in the not too distant future?

Any answers to the above questions, would certainly help clear the air.

Gerald Pechenuk does Snow expect the next two years to be "aggressive" considering how little luck the President has had with his agenda since his reelection?

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 22, 2006 2:34 PM.

Darfur: Divestment language dropped, deal on stalled sanctions bill. was the previous entry in this blog.

McCain: Iraq view grim. ``We have to make progress.'' is the next entry in this blog.

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