Democrats this morning seem to be ecstatic about the transfer of Fox News host Tony Snow to the thankless job of White House press secretary. They have been busy circulating all the embarrassing things that Snow has said lately about President Bush, including his contention last November that Bush has become, well, "something of an embarrassment."
I've been getting peppered with emails on this topic: Snow in various commentaries has indeed called Bush "impotent," "listless," and "guilty" of mishandling Katrina and the Dubai ports deal. Snow once said that Bush talked "like a soul tortured with Tourette’s.” That's just a very small sampling. The Democrats, in other words, are excited at the prospect of watching an outspoken conservative broadcaster morph into a droning flak for the embarrassment-in-chief.
Maybe that will happen, who knows. And maybe Snow won't be able to handle it. There once was a press secretary, Jerry terHorst, who quit the Gerald Ford administration in 1974 because he couldn't square his integrity with the dictates of presidential flackery.
But, after 24 hours of reflection, my contrarian instincts now tell me that the Democrats are actually doing Bush a big favor at the moment.
Playing right into Bush's hands.
Making Bush look good.
Democrats are basically advertising today that Bush is not an insulated bubble boy, after all; that Bush is willing, in fact, to reach out and hire a guy who has repeatedly busted his chops on national radio and TV; that Bush is not terminally addicted to being surrounded by yes men. Those pithy Snow quotes - here's one early list, from a pro-Democratic group - appear to be proof of that.
Moreover, the Democrats, by openly advertising Snow's iconoclasm, have undercut their own longstanding contention that Fox News and all its hirelings are just lickspittles of the administration.
No doubt, if Bush had hired somebody with a track record of mindlessly echoing the Bush line, Democrats would be unified today in saying that Bush remains in a bubble, impervious to outside criticism.
But what we see, instead, are Democrats contradicting each other.
We have one party organ (the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) circulating Snow's anti-Bush remarks, yet we have another party organ (the Democratic National Committee) sticking with the bubble theme and painting Snow as a mouthpiece: "This is an interdepartmental move from one part of the conservative infrastructure to another that allows a darling of the right-wing to deliver the same misleading message, cherry-picked information and spin to the American people."
So it's another Democratic mixed message.
Score that a PR win for the White House.