Changing Titles, But Not Changing Jobs
For this week's column, I had a better headline: "Fox News Commentator Becomes Bush Administration Spokesman. Like You Can Tell The Difference." But there wasn't room.
ADMINISTRATION SERVES UP ANOTHER SNOW JOB
East Valley Tribune, Apr. 30, 2006
It’s not easy to get people to leave cushy private-sector jobs to accept the lower pay and higher stress of public service -- especially when it’s a highly unpopular president (32 percent approval? Clinton was never, ever even close to being that unpopular) in the last years of his term doing the asking.
Luckily, the administration found a “loaned executive” instead, with a Fox News commentator becoming the official Bush administration spokesman. It’s the ultimate in changing a job title without changing the job. What Tony Snow does at work won’t change one bit when he leaves Fox News to become a Bush mouthpiece. He probably doesn’t have a waiting period for health insurance, either.
(I won’t go so far as humorist Andy Borowitz, who predicted a merger of the Bush administration and Fox News parent News Corporation, pending working out of the final detail of whether President Bush reports to Rupert Murdoch or continues reporting to Dick Cheney.)
The real shame here is that the appointment of a new press secretary is an official Big Deal for this administration. They’ve spun it to an unusually credulous Washington Post that Snow brings an “outsider perspective” and “fresh thinking” needed by a “too insular” White House. Because that’s what this administration considers its job, creating the illusion of progress.
What’s in the Medicare drug benefit and how much it costs are irrelevant; what matters is having something, no matter how grotesquely costly, confusing, and inefficient, that you can call a Medicare drug benefit. What matters isn’t making progress in Iraq, but ginning up something, anything, that you can call progress. After all, the latest Big Step Forward that the Shiite coalition’s choice for prime minister, whom Bush feted in Washington during the 2004 campaign as a true patriot and partner, has now been replaced by a different guy from the Da’wa party. And bonus points to any of you ‘wingers who know their names. (It’s Jawad al-Maliki and Ibrahim al-Jaafari -- but no points unless you know which one is which.)
And there’s immigration, where Republicans are ever-so-unified. You’ve got the Republican National Committee running ads on Spanish-language radio saying that it’s the Democrats’ fault that the GOP House-approved immigration bill makes illegal aliens felons. You have Sen. Jon Kyl saying that “nobody” is really calling for that felony provision. Thus, we have official GOP confirmation that Rep. J.D. Hayworth is a nobody. Good luck crafting a policy that satisfies GOP campaign contributors grown dependent on cheap labor and the readers of this page that think if we just deport 15 million people, it’ll be 1960 again (and those readers will be 40 years younger, too).
It’s also worth noting that it took John O’Sullivan, a conservative columnist for the conservative New York Post, to notice that enforcement of employer sanctions has nosedived under Bush. During 1995-1997, while Bill Clinton was president, the government arrested 10,000 to 18,000 illegal aliens at worksites each year, and served 1,000 employers with notices of fines for employing them. In 2004, with George W. Bush as president, worksite arrests fell to 159, with all of 3 fine notices to employers nationally. Yep, 9/11 sure changed everything -- except anything that might interrupt the GOP’s care and feeding of its campaign contributors’ economic interests.
It’s almost pitiful watching President Bush flail around for something, anything, to do about gas prices. Maybe you saw his Al Gore imitation, calling for alternative fuel vehicles and decrying our national dependency on the internal combustion engine. Then there’s his call for an investigation of gouging, which turns out to have been performed a year ago the last time gas prices spiked, but they hope you can’t remember what happened a year ago. It would be pitiful, except that the posturing on gas prices is exactly of a piece with an administration that confuses spin with reality, posturing with progress, and rosy hopes with reality.
Good thing “the grownups are in charge.” Maybe there’s a pony in there somewhere, but I doubt it.