We can’t think of any compelling reason, other than it’s never been done before, why White House press secretary Tony Snow shouldn’t raise money for the Republican Party.
Snow had an impressive resume before becoming President Bush’s spokesman last May — editorial writer, columnist, radio and TV talk-show host, chief speechwriter for the first President Bush. His briefings are witty, informative by the generally unproductive standards of those sessions; he’s willing to engage with the reporters; and as a result has picked up a following.
No wonder the Republican faithful would like to hear him in person. The White House political office, which asked for his help, and the Republican National Committee, believe he can raise a lot of money — $100,000 to $150,000 an appearance, starting in earnest next week. Snow said the president did not ask him “directly” to do fundraisers, indicating that Bush at least signed off on it.
Snow said his decision to accept the added role was reached only after “long conversations” and was not a “no-brainer,” suggesting that he had some misgivings. Neither he nor the press corps could think of a precedent for a presidential spokesman also serving as a money raiser. It is, as he said, “unplowed ground.”
There was no immediate opposition from the White House reporters, but traditionally the press corps has been proprietary about the press secretary, believing his attention should be devoted solely to them.
Snow said he agreed because he wanted to help the president. No surprise there. And he was not going to go out “and start railing against Democrats”; that “would be crossing a line I don’t care to cross” — perhaps easier said than done.
White House press secretaries have traditionally kept a certain distance from the partisan fray to preserve their credibility. The distinctions would mean little to people with real lives, but in Washington they matter greatly. Said Snow, “You want to make sure that you do it in such a way that you’re still able to function effectively as the press secretary, which means that from a red-meat standpoint, they’re (his campaign appearances) likely to be pretty dull.”
We still wish he wouldn’t do it.