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Snow Actually Gets It

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.

Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at

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