The word on the wires is that Tony Snow is a “critic” of the President, which supposedly makes him more interesting than the yes-man every Press Secretary in recent memory has been. Is he critical of Mr. Bush? Well, yes and no. He does seem to take issue with Mr. Bush in his failures to be more autocratic, blunt and obnoxious than he already is. He criticises Mr. Bush not for his egregious patterns of lawbreaking and usurpation or any of the things that have alienated traditionalist conservatives from this President–he criticises Mr. Bush for not going far enough in many of these destructive, anti-conservative directions. Oh, yes, Mr. Snow does regret all the wild spending. That takes a lot of principle!

Tony Snow is not the sort of “conservative” critic who has found the general thrust of Mr. Bush’s administration contrary to conservative principles–on precisely those areas where Mr. Bush is loathed and opposed by more and more even in his own party, particularly foreign policy and immigration, Tony Snow has been dutifully galloping to the left to keep up with Mr. Bush’s policies (then again, as a faithful FoxNews man, he probably did not have very far to go to reach Mr. Bush’s positions).

Thus on immigration Mr. Snow has written in recent months a number of astonishingly facile columns, attacking the core of his own party as new Know Nothings who participate in what he has dubbed “fearful fringe nativism.” He has come out for the same mass immigration as his new boss and even for the Dubai ports deal, which puts him in the rarefied company of Bush yes-men such as Larry Kudlow.

Forget becoming Press Secretary–I think the Wall Street Journal could use a new hack op-ed writer, and Mr. Snow seems eminently qualified. Going beyond the normal sycophancy of even a WSJ editorial, he has referred to Mr. Bush’s foreign policy as “brilliant” and calls the domestic side of the Bush agenda “listless” because Mr. Bush, the arch-Big Government conservative, is not hacking away at the federal budget (as if he ever had any intention of doing this!). The problem isn’t that Tony wants to see more spending cuts (who wouldn’t?), but that he honestly believes Mr. Bush would ever commit to them.

More absurdly, albeit not directly related to Bush, he has referred to Rosa Parks as the “Jean D’Arc of the Civil Rights Movement.” Last I checked, Rosa Parks lived to a ripe old age, did not claim to hear the voice of St. Catherine and was hardly ever burned to death for heresy (Jean D’Arc did have a great deal of trouble on where she could sit on Burgundian buses, however, so perhaps the comparison is apt after all), but this is what passes for serious commentary from Tony Snow.

He must have thought, “Jean D’Arc is a famous woman, and Rosa Parks is a famous woman, so I’ll put them in the same sentence and identify one with the other! That will show that I am really smart and uptown!” The problem here is not just historical illiteracy, which I assume is a job requirement to work either in this administration or at FoxNews, but the sort of fawning hyperappreciation that such faux conservatives as Snow shower on a civil rights movement that everything in their conservatism ought to tell them is dubious at best. This is the modern conservatism that has privileged choice and equality as the important buzzwords to use frequently as the new generation of conservative pundits have striven to get away from the conservative tradition as much as possible.

It is just this sort of excessive fawning and pandering to appear so very progressive on questions of race that most conservatives, whatever they think about the civil rights movement, find obnoxious. It is a flaw that Snow shares with this administration, which further confirms that on the three areas where Mr. Bush needs the most help and a fresh perspective to reconnect with a number of alienated conservatives and independents he has chosen instead a frontman who will utter all the usual banal inanities about Iraq, immigration and race and culture with the enthusiasm of a true believer at the very moment when a skeptic and real critic of the President’s excesses and failures in these areas would have shown a great deal more political wisdom and humility.