There is not a lot that I can add to all the wonderful things that have been said regarding Tony. His passing is untimely to say the least. The world needs more Tony Snow’s, not less.
About his job as press secretary he is quoted as having said “I love these briefings.” I don’t know if you realise just what those words say. Or what they mean. Here was a man who knew and understood his job. He understood what it was he did, and just what it meant, and he had a great appreciation of the power and the substance and the history of it all. And he knew both sides of deal.
I was in the middle of nowhere when I heard the news of his passing. It shouldn’t have come as the suprize that it did… but it did. What he was going through wasn’t pleasent, and it showed. Like many, I’ve lost more than my share of friends to cancer, and even though I’d never met Tony Snow I did keep up a bit with his career. The last time I saw him on television, well…, I’ve seen that look before, …as horrible as it is to say. And not so very long ago I thought I was headed down that same pathway myself.
I knew that I wanted to write something here about him. He meant something to me. Something, well, not easily put down in words. It wasn’t so long ago that I lauded another journalist in this forum, and I don’t want to come across as if trying to somehow “top” that. But just the same, Tony Snow was special. He was a professional… the model professional. “I love these briefings.” speaks to that. He loved his job, and he loved the people around him. He loved the interaction and the give and take of that forum. And he appreciated his place in the scheme of things. And he did it all so very well. That is professionalism at its best. But, all of this has been said by so many others, all I can add is maybe a ditto.
One thing that needs to be said, and said over again however, is that not only did he love his job, but he loved his family. And from what I’ve read and heard he loved his family more than he loved the job. And in Washington… actually anywhere that there is a large amount of raw power on display, political, social, financial, …anywhere, people typically tend to gravitate to that power and put way more of themselves into getting close to that power or consolidating that power or keeping that power, than they do to what’s truly important. And there is nothing more important than family. Tony Snow knew that. My heart goes out to his wife, son, and daughters which he leaves behind. To them he left a legacy that isn’t often matched in that world in which he lived. He had a job and he did it well, but he had a family, and that job he did well too. He had his priorities right.
President Bush said of Tony that he lent “A certain civility to this very contentious job.” That may well be an understatement. That he was an honorable man showed clearly. Tony Snow gave an example. Wherever he went, and whatever he did, Tony Snow was an example of how things should be. How things can be. He walked the walk.
What he told the graduates of The Catholic University of America in May of 2007 we all need to hear, and take to heart –
1. Think; use your brains.2. Take risks; don’t be content with what you know.3. Commit to God. Faith is as natural as the air we breathe. Religion is the introduction to the ultimate extreme sport.4. Get out and experience life. Get your fingernails dirty… and laugh, a lot, at yourselves. ..the pain, the poignancy, the aches are essential; they bring us together.5. Love. It is everything…to love is to acknowledge that life is not about you…to submit willingly, heart and soul, to things that matter. Think not only of what it means to love but what it means to be loved. I have a lot of experience with that. Since the news that I have cancer again, I have heard from thousands and thousands of people and I have been the subject of untold prayers. I’m telling you right now: You’re young, bullet-proof and invincible. Never underestimate the power of other people’s love and prayer. They have incredible power. It’s as if I’ve been carried on the shoulders of an entire army. And they had made me weightless.
The good, they do die young.
“The measure of this man’s life can be found in his character, in his optimism, in his joy and humor, in his courage, in his passion for what was good and right, and in his love for God and family and neighbor and country. Tony Snow did not need a long life for us to measure. It was, rather, we who needed his life to be longer.” – the Very Rev. David M. O’Connell