The latest polls have President Bush's job approval rating at 36 percent and Congress' at 22 percent.
So the headlines should read: "President's approval rating 50 percent higher than Congress.' "
Seriously, it's hard to imagine any president or elected official receiving decent ratings with so many 24/7 media outlets (Daily News excepted) insatiably focused on probes, leaks, corruption, gossip, accusations and censures. Even John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan would have difficulty surviving today's press onslaughts.
At White House press briefings, reporters demand instant answers to every day's complex issue. Seeking ratings, they revel in every hint of possible mistakes, while showing outright disrespect for the current administration. They savagely and repeatedly question the integrity, motives and competence of the president.
In this environment, Tony Snow faces an uphill battle as he comes onstage as White House press secretary. As Snow assumes the chore of articulating Bush administration policies, and explaining every day's surprises and decisions, Tony knows his responses will face instant scrutiny and rebuttal. He should know: In his prior life he himself frequently critiqued Bush.
White House reporters, in their quest for mistakes and thirst for blame, have ready access to uninformed "talking heads" and partisan politicians, always ready to accuse, finger-point, second-guess, disparage or lambaste the president's every move. Together, this "team" — little concerned about accuracy — gets away with negative spin and bogus assertions.
Lusting for scandals, they demand special investigations, hoping to ferret out blunders, absent themselves of constructive suggestions or alternative ways forward.
The press has been ravenous in this regard since Watergate, but today we've clearly hit new lows.
It's no wonder America is confused, frustrated and disgusted!
This is definitely not healthy for our nation. The polls show that the average American is repulsed by and fed up with the pessimism and vitriol of American politics. Partisan rancor and bitterness has created broad public cynicism, apathy and national disharmony.
We are imploding, self-destructing. We have met the enemy, and it is us!
While it's a lot to ask, hopefully Tony Snow will make a positive difference in the disturbingly diseased climate inside the Washington Beltway.
Tony is articulate, confident, experienced, likable, quick on his feet and highly intelligent. Blending his skills and personality, Tony may be able to deflect venom and respond positively to the media's accusatory questions. He may even restore some camaraderie in the White House Press Room, thereby promoting more balance, clarity, education and solidarity in the public discourse.
Applying his talents, Snow might urge the press to focus outside, on "What do we do about terrorism?" rather than remaining obsessed over "who outed Valerie Plame?"
Instead of repeatedly anguishing over the rights of enemy combatants, the press might be inspired to condemn terrorist atrocities and messages of hate. Conceivably, the press might begin balancing their focus on homicide bombings with encouraging reports about emerging democracies, in Iraq and elsewhere. Journalists might even be encouraged to spread a message globally that freedom and tolerance are superior alternatives to the death and destruction of Islamic jihad.
Wouldn't it be great if Snow could help the press present the truth about gas prices, instead of simply condemning U.S.
companies, with their 9 percent profits, as gougers? Perhaps they could inform Americans that oil prices are set in a region handcuffed by Islamic jihad. They might tell the public that Osama bin Laden and the maniacal president of Iran, by creating regional tensions and uncer tainties, have far more impact on rising oil prices than all the energy companies combined. And they might warn Americans that the world's most productive oil fields are in jeopardy of someday being controlled by terrorists.
Hopefully, well-conducted press briefings can help turn the focus toward needed U.S. reform in long-term energy policies and serve as a small step toward a world less addicted to Middle East oil.
Maybe Snow can get the press, as they cover illegal immigration, to add concern about the most dangerous immigrants of all — the thousands of al-Qaida sympathizers plotting evil from secret cells, right inside our own borders.
Possibly, clearer articulation at White House press briefings can help criticism yield to understanding, inspire Americans to look ahead instead of focusing in the past, and turn national despair to hope.
A metamorphosis from an accusatory press to a more understanding, sympathetic and constructive media poses an enormous challenge. Let's pray for Tony Snow, his health, his family and his success, as he selflessly takes on this critical mission in the Bush administration.
As president/international, Jack Tymann led business development for Westinghouse around the world, including most Muslim nations. He lived in Iran and the Middle East. In the 1990s, he served on and chaired the Clinton-Mubarak Presidents' Council.
Today he serves on the board of AMIDEAST, a consulting firm promoting mutual understanding between Americans and Arabs via educational exchange.