Tony Snow: He chokes up talking about his colon cancer in first televised briefing. Packed house. What a difference.

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Blogger Sweet reviews the first televised briefing hosted by new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow . If I may borrow a thumb from colleague Roger Ebert, I’d rate briefing one a thumbs up.

The briefing room was packed. That’s reporters in most of the 48 seats arranged like in a small theater plus people jammed in the aisles.

Snow, fresh from Fox News, is extremely telegenic. In a personal aside, Snow fights back tears talking about his colon cancer. He starts to choke after being asked about a yellow bracelet he is wearing. He stops talking to try to regain his composure. I wonder if he is about to cry.

A line from a movie is floating through my mind.

“There’s no crying in baseball.” (From “A League of Their Own”)

There’s no crying in the White House.

Summary: What a difference.

Use of language: Good.

TV presence: Obvious.

Willing to spar: Yes

Able to give pushback: Yes

Over apologetic: Yes, after he presumed Senate will pass an immigration bill.

The ability to say the same thing over and over, phrased differently: Yes.

Robotic: No. Quite a contrast for the man he replaced, Scott McClellan.

Affable: Yes

Ability to try to intimidate: Yes. In a curt reply to a gadfly talk show host. McClellan would always take his questions. Even though today’s question was not all that nutty, Snow’s reply was a shot: mostly icy silence and a refusal to engage.

from the Snow briefing…

Q And just a second question. Why did you choose to wear the yellow bracelet today? What’s the importance to you?

MR. SNOW: Well, I had cancer last year. You know, I mean, in having cancer — you know, it’s one of these things — and, you know, thank Terry Hunt for having provided it. I lost my old one when I was in the hospital having my last cancer surgery.

It’s going to sound stupid, and I’ll be personal here, but — (pause) —

Q Tony, I’m sorry.

MR. SNOW: No, no. Just having gone through this last year — and I said this to Chris Wallace — was the best thing that ever happened to me. (Pauses.)

It’s my Ed Muskie moment. (Laughter.)

I lost a mother to cancer when I was 17, same type — colon cancer. And what has happened in the field of cancer since then is a miracle. I actually had a chance to talk today with Lance Anderson about this. Because you know what, it’s one of these things where — whatever we may say about a health care system, the technologies that were available to me, that have me standing behind this podium today — well the doctor who said, “You don’t have to worry about getting cancer, just heartburn talking to these people” — (laughter) — that’s a wonderful thing. And I feel every day’s a blessing. (Scattered applause.)

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