There is a saying that real diplomacy is telling someone to "go to hell" — and having them look forward to the trip! This is a skill that Tony Snow has, and Scott McClellan, doesn’t.
McClellan could never get them to look forward to the trip. He was always staying "on message" — but he didn’t go to the trouble of trying to disguise it. He didn’t realize that this was a courtship.
What Scott McClellan never got is that the real skill in parrying a question is to make the reporter feel that you answered it — or at the very least — that you care. Otherwise, you’re not really "spinning" anybody but yourself.
Conversely, Snow seems to understand this lesson.
As Dana Milbank notes today: "Reporters leaving the 40-minute session would discover that, like his predecessors, Snow had imparted no useful information to them. But he had done it in a far more entertaining manner. "
Snow also has a real advantage in that people respect him. He has credibility — and he must guard it with his life.
My advice to Tony Snow is to never be put into a situation where he is out-of-the-loop with the rest of the administration. He must continue to be more forthcoming than his predecessor (this will be good for him — and the president).
Based on yesterday, it looks like Snow is off to a good start. As Don Imus said this morning: "I don’t know him, but I like him." They used to say that about Reagan. It’s a good sign, indeed.