It was the best decision in my 62 years of professional life as a journalist. I was the Washington Times' editor in chief and looking for a new editorial page editor. Tony Snow was the first and last recommended name I interviewed. The year was 1987.
Tony was 32 years old. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner the same day in a secluded beach location, away from the rumor mill.
I was bowled over. His keen intellect, erudition, knowledge, kindness, and charm left no doubt he was a nonpareil. His writing skills were obvious from the Detroit News clips I had already read. His philosophy for editorial writing: If your gut tells you something's fishy, trust your gut.
For mechanical reasons, the Times editorial pages in those days had a noon close, which meant we would miss afternoon and evening news, a handicap we overcame by pitching our chosen subjects as far forward as possible. Tony and I met at 8 a.m. daily before he met with his editorial writers. Glasnost and Perestroika had been launched by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Conservative gurus argued this was yet another Soviet detente trick and warned us not to fall for Communist snare and delusion.
Tony could see, and I concurred, that what Gorbachev had started could only lead to the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire or to Gorbachev's downfall. It did both. And Tony's early wisdom prevailed.
Always of good humor, Tony exuded humanity and compassion, as he broke through traditional teachings seeking truth and the word of life, of a better life for mankind. It is very rare when the friendship of an exemplary human being hoists you to a higher plane. Such a man was Tony. An exceptionally talented human being. A lovely man in all respects. I seldom cry upon the death of a friend of long standing. For Tony, I wept unashamedly.
We both resigned our respective positions in 1991. The new post-Cold War era led me to believe my job was done and new times required fresh eyes and ears to focus on our unfinished domestic agenda.
Tony could see his future in the exploding electronic media. He became a shooting star there, too.
His level of inspired insight was his gift to millions of listeners and viewers. And his passing at such a young age with a future still full of promise, leaving Jill and three fabulous children behind, leads me to question the Almighty's judgment in letting Tony lose his battle against cancer. And this despite the prayers of millions of admirers.
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