Tony Snow is leaving. Mr. Snow has been White House Press Secretary since April of 2006 at a salary of $168,000 a year. Before coming to the White House in April 2006, Snow had worked for the Fox News Channel and hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show.
Snow’s departure has been widely anticipated, in large part because he has been suffering from a recurrence of colon cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments that have left him looking gaunt and less than well, as chemo tends to do. But Snow insists that he is leaving not for health reasons but to recoup the income he lost when he left his job as a radio and television host to take the $168,000-a-year job as press secretary.
“I ran out of money,” he said. Really? Well, excuse me for not having much sympathy or empathy for that statement. How many of us around here would like to earn $168,000 a year? His leaving because of cancer makes much more sense than to tout that he “ran out of money.” Snow probably doesn’t even realize, and, worse yet, probably didn’t even stop to think how that statement might sound to us “little people” who inhabit this planet earning far less than the paltry sum of $168,000 a year.
But, then again, I remember the famous statement included in Michael Moore’s movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” where Bush is standing in front of a crowd of his wealthy friends and benefactors. Bush says (and this may not be the exact wording), “Tonight I am surrounded by the “haves” and the “have mores”; some people call you the elite – I call you my base.” I wonder if Tony Snow was in that crowd?
Don’t get me wrong, I feel badly for Mr. Snow as I know his battle with cancer will be a hard one given the breadth of the disease already spreading through his body. My mother died from lymphoma – a form of cancer which spreads through the body rapidly. And I lost a friend of 12 years in 2006 to lymphoma. I watched as she battled daily in her hospital room for a month – she never stopped thinking she would recover. And I watched her decline mentally and physically every day as I visited her until she died a month to the day she was hospitalized.
I would rather hear Mr. Snow say that he is leaving for health reasons and wants to spend his days with his family than to blithely say that $168,000 isn’t enough and he “ran out of money.” That reason simply doesn’t compute for the average person, but leaving for health and family reasons? That makes sense.