Bruce Bartlett

Also, Republicans know that there is a media double standard: Democrats are permitted to take partisan positions in government and still work the media afterwards, while Republicans are almost never allowed to do so. It is inconceivable that a Republican would ever being given the positions that George Stephanopoulos has at ABC News or Bill Moyers has with PBS. A Republican would be viewed as too partisan, while even the most partisan Democrat can pretend to still be objective.

The most a Republican can hope for is a position that involves peddling opinions, as Bill Safire did in the New York Times after being a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. But he’s really the exception that proves the rule that Republicans are persona non grata in the major media.

To me, the most interesting thing about Snow’s appointment is that unlike many other conservative pundits he never pulled his punches in attacking Bush and Republicans in Congress for their violation of conservative principles. Following are a couple of quotes from recent Snow newspaper columns:

Dec. 3, 2005: “The Republican Party in Washington is in trouble not because it’s overrun by crooks, but because it’s packed with cowards—and has degenerated into a caricature of the party that swept to power 11 years ago promising to take on the federal bureaucracy and liberate the creative genius of American society.”

March 17, 2006: “George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion.”

And he is no Johnny-come-lately critic. As long ago as Aug. 25, 2000, Snow had this to say about then-candidate George W. Bush: “On the policy side, he has become a classical dime-store Democrat. He gladly will shovel money into programs that enjoy undeserved prestige, such as Head Start.”

Funny. When I wrote a book saying pretty much the same thing, I was fired by a conservative think tank that put partisanship above intellectual integrity.

The real importance of the Snow appointment is that he demanded to be involved in White House policy decisions and not just be the guy who announces them. If he tells President Bush the kinds of things he has written in his columns, he can do a lot of good and maybe rescue him from creeping political irrelevancy.

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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