Above is one of, if not my favorite photo of Mr. Snow. Below is a speech he made a year ago at CPAC.Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow
Omni Shoreham Hotel
February 9, 2008
Thank you for letting me wrap up this extraordinary conference.
Friends, I come not to bury conservatism, but to praise it. Not just praise, but to fire up. The world needs us, and we need to let everybody know that we’re not about to fold our tents. We’re not about to go slinking off into the sunset. And we’re not about to walk back from the high ideals and grand accomplishments we have achieved over the last generation. So to doubters, to the disconsolate, and especially to the Democrats, pass the word: We have just begun to fight!
Every political movement experiences moments of triumph and testing. We have spent a good portion of the last couple of years fighting each other. Now, we need to roll up our sleeves. We’ve got work to do and we need to do it as a team.
Some commentators act as if the curtain is closing on conservatism. They wish. The curtain merely has fallen on the first act – you know, the part where we defeated communism and brought freedom to hundreds of millions formerly held captive. Now, we’re on the verge of Act Two, which is to extend the blessings of liberty to places now oppressed by fanaticism and terror … and to continue the project of fulfilling our founders’ project of forming an ever more-perfect union. The conservative movement isn’t going toes up. We’re just getting started. So lace ‘em up friends. Our lives are going to get more interesting and more exciting. We have a calling.
As we go into a bruising election year, let’s remember the Eleventh Commandment. No candidate is perfect. No party is perfect. People say they’re going to boycott an election because they don’t like John McCain, or will switch sides in protest. Well, OK.
But before you do, let me suggest an alternative. Why not join together to revise and revive our revolutionary agenda? It’s not as if conservatives haven’t influenced policy in the last couple of years. You want to make every pundit look bad? Then stand tall for what you believe. Don’t be shy. You want to stun the establishment? Then become a mighty force for conservative principles, and tackle the task with confidence and cheer. You want to win in November? Then count your blessings, speak out for what you believe, and tell everyone you know that there will be two choices on Election Day and only one of them will be good.
This may be a time of testing. But it’s not our swan song. Not by a long shot.
Instead… this is our moment. This is the time to do what we do best – turn adversity into strength.
When the economy is under siege, who you gonna call?
When terrorists test our defenses and try to weaken our will, who can you gonna call?
When elites bend, fold, spindle and mutilate our most cherished values, who you gonna call?
And when you need optimism based on a deep faith in the goodness, decency and ability of each and every American citizen, who you gonna call?
With all the tests before us, this is our moment, our time to address the big and important issues: national security, economic liberty, the sanctity of life. We can help a torn and wounded world, not because of our might, but because of our decency.
You know the core message. We are carriers of freedom. To be a conservative is to believe in limited government and the unlimited capabilities of free people.
You also know the topline issues:
Don’t spend other people’s money as if it were other people’s money. Get rid of sneaky earmarks. I’m tired of hearing Republican lawmakers defend projects that got slipped into the budget in secret. That’s not constituent service. That’s not conservatism. That’s corruption.
Get rid of programs that aren’t essential for keeping us strong and free.
Get innovative. Set our creative geniuses loose on retirement security, on health care for seniors – on health care, period. Create a system where companies compete furiously to give us what we want – I repeat: What we want – at the best price possible. Reward those who put us first, our needs first, our concerns first. You think about it this way, and you’ll realize: Conservatism is compassion.
Fight for judges who believe in preserving constitutional principles, not tossing them in the trash.
Project confidence on the global stage. Rebuff defeatists. Protectionists, isolationists, nativists and pessimists are afraid. They don’t think we can cut it in the global economy – and want us to hide. Keep pushing for free and fair trade. And show everyone that when it comes to competition, we’re still Number One. We won’t finish second to anybody.
Tackle the tough stuff using conservative principles. Here’s a conservative way forward – broad principles only.
Create sovereign and secure borders.
Identify non-citizens, and keep track with a fraud-proof ID.
Restore the rule of law, with clear laws and strong, predictable enforcement.
Restore majesty to citizenship: Make clear that it’s not a party favor, but something you earn. Every new American should speak the language and understand the culture.
No Amnesty. And no retreat from our proud tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Conservatives have had a huge influence in this debate, and have a huge stake in the outcome. We can solve this mess in a way that keeps us strong and secure, and welcomes into the family people who have proven that they will make great Americans. So let’s fix the problem together, and fix it right.
Now, let’s focus on a big difference between liberals and conservatives. Those on the left say we’re in dire straits. Huh? Dire is Jimmy Carter smugly informing Americans that we couldn’t stop the march of communism. Dire is a land pockmarked by bread lines and dried up riverbeds. Dire is a country run according to the blueprints offered this year by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Conventional wisdom declares that the last seven years constitute a long sad tale of failure. History will remember it as one of our finest hours.
Seven years ago, this country was mired in a recession left behind by the Clinton administration. George W. Bush had just taken the oath of office. Since then, we’ve taken the hardest hits the world had to offer. 9/11. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Corporate scandals. The costliest natural disaster in history – Hurricane Katrina. $100 oil. The subprime lending mess. If I had told you in 2001 that we would have absorbed such blows, you would have predicted disaster and despair.
And you would have bet wrong. The last seven years proved that leadership counts. President Bush and a Republican Congress cut taxes we got 52 consecutive months of job growth – an all time record that apparently came to an end last month. The economy has expanded without interruption for 6-1/2 years. More people own homes than ever before. More people are working than ever before. They’re making more than ever before. Kids are doing better in school. More Americans attend college than at any point in our history. The gap between rich and poor has narrowed because more people are making more money. The crime rate is down across the board. Youth crime down. Youth drug use down. Youth alcohol abuse down. Crime and drug abuse down across the board. Teen pregnancy rates down. Abortion rates down. Divorce rates down. If you’re an environmentalist, vote Republican: thanks to free-market approaches, our air is cleaner, and we’re doing better than any other industrialized economy.
You know why Democrats want to describe these things as failures? Because they refused to help.
They’re celebrating not because they have accomplished anything, but because they prevented us from accomplishing things. They stonewalled on economic recovery. They’re blocking legislation that lets our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies keep tabs on terrorists. They have trashed many decent people – right up to the Vice President and President. The good news is: They failed. The economy improved without them. The surge moved without them. And we’re moving forward as a country despite their efforts to stand in the way.
It’s easy to forget amid all the gloomy talk that we live in thrilling times, exploding with inventive energy. I’ll bet just about everyone in this room has a cell phone or PDA that all by itself has more memory, speed and computational power than all the computers on all the Apollo flights that took Americans to the moon and back.
The world is rocketing forward. Thinkers and innovators produce gushers of new information each year – the equivalent of 17,000 libraries of Congress…. 630 billion volumes. Your kids have their own web pages. They’re texting and IM-ing and communicating constantly. I get home some days, and my kids are in front of the TV, jumping around on dance mats, or whamming away at plastic replica guitars, saying, “Come on, Dad. You try.” And when I do, I realize that my mind moves at about one-tenth of the speed theirs do. And my feet and hands, about one-hundredth. I’m old and I’m white and there’s nothing I can do about it! But if you doubt the steepness of our innovative curve, just look at your kids’ Christmas lists – or your own.
All around, we’re exploring new frontiers. You have before you a stage 4 cancer patient, hale and chipper. Doctors have at their disposal today a bunch of treatments for my disease that they didn’t have just 10 months ago. And when we’re not working, we’re hurling ourselves into the world in other ways – hiking mountains, volunteering at a food bank or church, playing music – all to make our lives more interesting and fulfilling.
One year ago, the President ordered the surge. Harry Reid declared it a failure – heck, he said we had lost the war – before the troops were even in place. You see a theme emerging?
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate sent a letter demanding that our troops leave – because for many Democrats, retreat was more desirable than victory. We know the story: A conservative president, George W. Bush made a tough call at a time of crisis – and the world is a better place.