- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2017


You probably never heard of him before, but Marc Short is that balding guy who was on Fox News on Sunday. The event was a bit strange, in the sense that it was the first TV appearance in his long political-managerial career.

As a man who works in, but is not of, the swamp, he did well enough Sunday morning with Fox’s John Roberts to put him on the short list for White House chief spokesman, if in fact the slot is about open up.

Mr. Short did better on Sunday speaking for President Trump — to the limited extent anybody can — than he has done at his current legislative liaison job, which entails presenting the White House’s policy desiderata to the GOP leaders in Congress and reporting their thoughts back to the president.

The shortfall is not Mr. Short’s fault. The president’s style is to let his spokesmen — and often his policy advisers — know his positions and sudden changes in them via his tweets and public remarks.

Critics say that’s stupid on Mr. Trump’s part. His riposte: “I’m president and they’re not.” Indisputable point, made in the full plenitude of his infuriatingly lovable immodesty and one of a thousand reasons he’s president and they’re not.

Mr. Trump nevertheless can use a spokesman who is so at home with the philosophy of conservatism and with expressing its policy implications and ramifications that he can discuss them with reporters better than Mr. Trump can — and do it without undermining the president’s image. It’s a bit challenging but quite doable by someone with the right combination of innate and learned abilities.

Tony Snow, former editorial page editor for the Washington Times and President George W. Bush’s press secretary, had that tight combo in spades. Tony Blankley, another former Times editorial page editor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s communications director, is another example (though in his case he enunciated the ideas not better than but as smartly as his boss, himself a riveting public speaker). And Charlie Hurt, The Times’ latest opinion editor/TV star (Fox News) would be the kind of White House spokesman I have in mind but for my paper’s sake, let’s hope he turns down any such hypothetical offer.

Back to Mr. Short who if nothing else is long on experience — and blessedly of the right kind. Once in the job, he may or may not measure up to the high standards set by the late Messrs. Snow and Blankley, but he has a more valuably varied background in the conservative world than do other contenders for press secretary.

He helped run hero-of-the-right Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance and managed the Reagan Ranch for its owner, the Young America’s Foundation. He was chief of staff for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and for Vice President Mike Pence when Mr. Pence was a U.S. House member from Indiana.

Mr. Short made the president’s case firmly on Sunday, and he did so with that winning smile that both deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her boss Sean Spicer also manage to muster at times for an almost always miffed-sounding press corps.

But missing at the moment is a natural propensity for answering reporters in depth. Right now there’s an acute shortage of appearances on TV by the engaging Mr. Short. Let his auditions begin.

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