Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

First up: ask Little Scottie a question that he does not like and you don’t get a follow-up.

Q Scott, two questions. One, right after meeting President Bush in the White House in the Oval Office, General Musharraf told CNN that it was — he joins Mr. Kofi Annan of the U.N. criticizing the U.S. war on Iraq. He said that it was a big mistake why the U.S. to invade Iraq, and later on he went to London, in the House of Commons and he said that the U.S.-led war — the way the U.S. led the war in Iraq made the world more dangerous than safe. How does the President feel? He calls him friend and helping the U.S. war on terror, and now he’s —

MR. McCLELLAN: We work very closely with Pakistan in the global war on terrorism. We appreciate all their help. I think our views are very clear when it comes to Iraq, and I think the views of the international community are clear now, too, in the fact that everybody is supporting the hopes and aspirations of the Iraqi people to move forward on building a free and peaceful future.

Q The second question, Afghanistan —

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going. Sarah, go ahead.

Next, the administration’s policy in regards to possible interference in Iraq’s elections by Iran: Speak Loudly and Carry No Stick.

Q Thank you. Following Norah’s question about Iran, there are published reports today that Iran is trying to influence the general Iraqi elections to form a religious government similar to Iran’s. Would the President tolerate such a government in Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: The Iraqi people are going to decide who represents them in their government. Democracy is emerging in Iraq, and there is no turning back to the days of Saddam Hussein and his oppressive, brutal regime. We are there to support the Iraqi people and help them move forward on holding elections and determining who their leaders will be. January 30th is the date that was set by the Independent Electoral Commission, and we remain committed to helping them move forward on that time frame to elect the transitional national assembly that would pick the transitional leadership. And then we’ll move forward on the constitution and move forward on elections for the permanent Iraqi government.

Q Scott, in your answer on Iran, and starting with your answer to Norah’s question, I heard a very articulate reemphasis of what your policy is, but not an answer to the question of what it is that we would do. In other words, if we actually think that there are Iranians who would be attempting to vote, what is the action plan to help the Iraqis, as you said, in supporting them in the election, to make sure that only Iraqis are voting? And what is the set of disincentives that you are preparing to lay out for the Iranians so that they don’t interfere?


Q So just to make this clear, in response to the question, what is the action plan, the answer is: Remind them of their past commitments and hope that the Electoral Commission works out the proper modalities?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I wouldn’t just limit it to those issues. But, again, you’re asking me to speculate on something that is yet to happen at this point. I’m not going to do that. But I am going to make it very clear what our views are, and what we expect of parties in the region.