12 July, 2008

Tony Snow and the Milbloggrers

UPDATE: By all accounts of those who knew him, he was exactly on screen who he was off. And so, whether a person "of faith" or not, I can't imagine being unmoved by his thoughts on suffering--"Cancer's Unexpected Blessings (page two is the must read)" Wow. Just. Wow.

I don't remember when I started watching it, but his Sunday show on FOX was always a pleasure and I was very sad to see him leave it. In the fall of 2004, I stumbled across his radio show in the early morning hours on my way to work. I liked the combination of free-wheeling humor and political insight so much that I used to race from my car to my classroom so that I could tune him in on the stereo while I prepared for the day's classes. His energetic voice and good spirits seemed to chase early morning fog from the corners of the room as I moved around setting things up. I hated turning it off at 7:50 to be ready for the children.

That was not long after I'd discovered the milblogs (and by extention the political blogs), and I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was obviously reading blogs, too. Although I suppose that knowing him to be a renaissance man of searching and voracious mind, I shouldn't have found that unexpected. When he moved on to work at the White House, many of the milbloggers cheered because we thought the previous press secretary had done such an awful job explaining defense-related policies and issues to the White House press corps.

Our hopes were ably met, and beyond that we treasured politely-delivered comments such as "Thank you for the Hezbollah view" in response to Helen Thomas' ridiculous diatribes thinly disguised as questions.

But milbloggers have an even stronger reason to have liked Tony Snow: we (bloggers and milbloggers alike) owe him so much.

Tony Snow took his interest in blogs with him to the White House and spread the word, giving us a voice and lending us legitimacy in a DC world that had previously been nothing but contemptuous toward the pajama-clad masses. Sitemeters at places like Blackfive and Argghhh! started displaying daily hits from places like whitehouse.gov, and some of us lesser lights got the spillover when they linked us.

The biggest indication of his impact came when a group of milbloggers spent an hour with President Bush last fall, but it has gone beyond that in terms of networking and access outside the White House. Milblogs are a small corner of a big world when it comes to information, opinion and policy, but we have had an impact and we have a place at the table. And part of that is due to Tony Snow.

The Washington Post has a great eulogy, reminding us of his intelligence, wit, broad background and great gifts. Read it all, and know that regardless of whether you shared his political outlook, we all lost a brilliant mind and a fine human being this morning. His optimism, dignity, faith and irrepressible good spirits shone through in everything he did, even as the cancer tried to cast its shadow over him.

It's a little darker out there today.