Fundraising for GOP: Snow Problem?
Congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg finds fault with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow going on fundraising jaunts for the GOP in Sunday's "Bush's Press Secretary Is Out Raising Money, And Some Eyebrows."
"In the six months since Mr. Bush enlisted him to resuscitate a White House press operation that was barely breathing, Mr. Snow, a former Fox News television and radio host and a conservative commentator, has reinvented the job with his snappy sound bites and knack for deflecting tough questions with a smile. Now, he is reinventing it yet again, by breaking away from the briefing room to raise money for Republicans, as he did here on Saturday night for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.
"Mr. Snow, who will make 16 such appearances before Election Day, acknowledged he had entered 'terra incognita'; to his knowledge, no other White House press secretary has raised money for political candidates while in the job. But with his star power from television and his conservative credentials, Mr. Snow, unlike his predecessors, is in hot demand.
"His booking agent is the White House political shop, run by Karl Rove, the president's chief strategist. The White House is not keeping track of how much money Mr. Snow raises. His talks - Saturday night's was a cross between a one-man show and a religious revival - have attracted little scrutiny so far, but they are giving a much-needed boost to a party whose midterm fortunes appear increasingly bleak."
"Yet even as the Republican establishment revels in his celebrity - 'It's like Mick Jagger at a rock concert,' Mr. Rove said - Mr. Snow's extracurricular activities are making some veteran Washington hands, including those with strong Republican ties, deeply uneasy.
"'The principal job of the press secretary is to present information to reporters, not propaganda,' said David R. Gergen, who served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations and also advised President Bill Clinton."
By the way, here's Gergen, he of those "strong Republican ties," describing Hillary Clinton on the February 9, 2005 CNN's Anderson Cooper 360: "I see her [Hillary Clinton] in - she's very consistent [in] what she's always believed. She's always had strong religious faith. She's been a strong Methodist. She does have conservative social values on many issues."
Stolberg gets picky, criticizing Snow for not bringing up Democratic talking points: "There were no mean words about Democrats. Mr. Snow, aware of his delicate balancing act, has vowed to 'stick to factual defenses and advocacy for the president.'
"But as the keynote speaker, of course, he got to choose which facts to defend. There was no mention of Mark Foley, the Florida congressman who resigned in late September amid revelations he sent sexually explicit e-mail to teenage pages, or Jack Abramoff, the corrupt lobbyist, or anybody else who makes Republicans cringe."
"That did not sit well with the local news media, which has been following accusations that Mr. Hastert's aides knew of the Foley scandal several years ago. Just two days earlier, Mr. Bush had been in Chicago to give the speaker his support. After his talk, Mr. Snow gave a mini news conference, and was asked why he failed to raise the Foley issue, 'to reassure the people who are paying 175 bucks a plate here tonight.'"