Two political icons that cast considerable shadows led the headlines this week.
One for his desire to return to the lynchings of the slavery era - through literal castration, the other for his enormous generosity, sense of fair play, and kindness.
On Father's Day 2008, when Barack Obama claimed that any "fool" could have child he could have easily addressed those comments directly to the Rev. Jesse Jackson. When Obama also claimed it took a "man" to raise a child, he would have been hard pressed to find a more brilliant example than former press secretary Tony Snow.
One had to be summarily dismissed this week as a buffoon, the other will be genuinely missed from ideological friend and foe alike. One views himself as a permanent fixture on the political stage, the other shunned it and only stayed on it because he was asked to by the most powerful man on the planet, and even then said, "so-long" only a little more than a year later.
One loves himself more than his family - both legitimate and illegitimate. The other exuded love for his family at every opportunity.
Jackson believes in greivance, negativity, and victimhood. Snow was a shining example of optimism, decency, and charity.
And while it is easy to see these differences merely from their media personas, a series of events in 2004 permanently seared them in my mind forever.
My daily radio show had only been on in New York for roughly a year, but my city was buzzing with the activity of the GOP convention. On the Sunday afternoon kick-off I was invited to a stand-up comedy event that Snow emceed.
Held at the New School University, the crowd couldn't have been greater than maybe a hundred or so. The room it was hosted in was half-empty. It would have been easy for Snow to cash in his duties, but instead poured his highly enthusiastic energy into the late afternoon event and the few dozen in attendance were the benefactors. Tony had guested on my show only three times previous so I was honored when he recalled one of his appearances.
Later that week those of us broadcasting from the convention settled into our spots on radio row in the Madison Square Garden facilities. On the first day, I showed up to discover that Snow was my broadcast position's neighbor. Fox News Radio had only recently launched his daily show but as was the case, despite technical snafus and guest scheduling problems I noted that Tony smiled through it all. Later that week he made one last appearance on my show, and when we were done, he offered sincere congratulations on "making it to New York."
Even when I asked how it felt to be moved on from the Fox News Sunday role that he had put on the map as the Sunday morning anchor, even when he had lost his most notable position in Sunday morning politics, even when he had been relegated to mostly just a Satellite radio audience with his daily show (much smaller than most terrestrial shows), even then - he smiled, cited the fact that he believed God was in control, spoke of his health struggles, and re-emphasized once again how short life was and that it was his family that held priority in his life and heart.
Little did he know that a run as press secretary, and ultimately life-taking colon cancer awaited him before that administration's run would conclude.
We shared one other thing with each other that day, we both lost our mothers to cancer at the age of 17. Being without parents for a portion of one's life, can spark a deeper commitment to one's own parental responsibilities. Tony Snow exhibited that in his verbal, physical, and emotional commitment to his family.
On September 1, Harvest House Publishers is slated to release my second book, The Kind of Man Every Man Should Be. The basis for the book essentially is to help rebuild the kind of man that is quickly disappearing. In light of the modern feminist message that tells men not to be involved in their family's lives, to not take responsibility for their sexual deeds, and to get in touch with one's feminine side, I believe this book is needed to redefine real men.
Tony Snow easily qualified as exactly the kind of man that valued clarity, decency, integrity, and longed to provide, and protect those he cherished most. So why we are we losing the Tim Russerts and Tony Snows these days while the Rev. Jacksons flourish? For that I have no answer.
All I can assert is that our pop-culture, me-first, feminist based navel-gazing causes men to be reduced to less than what God designed them to be - and Jackson is a well founded example of that.
But every now and then someone comes along who swims against the tide, always making points based on fact, enduring great rhetorical struggle in the battle for getting across ideas, and even getting shot at from time to time for being so "counter" to popular opinion - and smiles while doing so!
Tony Snow was that kind of man.
And from both a personal and professional perspective this correspondent never saw anything hypocritical in the life or habits of the man who never refused to smile.
Oh that every man would leave that as his legacy!