Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Is it me, or is Little Scottie getting pissed here?

Q Is the President surprised by the frustration of Senator Lott and other Republican senators about Secretary Rumsfeld?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President is focused on working closely with Senator — with Secretary Rumsfeld to win the war on terrorism. That’s where his focus is. Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a great job, leading our efforts at the Department of Defense to win the war on terrorism and to help bring about a free and peaceful Iraq. And the President is focused on working closely with him on those matters.

Q Does the President — is he interested in talking to Senator Lott, Senator McCain and others about why they are coming out now and speaking about —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we visit with congressional leaders all the time. The President is going to remain focused on working on our nation’s priorities, and working with his Cabinet to address those priorities.

Q Has he talked with any of the senators about this, that you know of?

MR. McCLELLAN: Not that I’m aware of.

Q Would he like to see this public criticism end?

MR. McCLELLAN: Bill, I think that the President understands that members of Congress have their own views that they express from time to time. We’ll continue working closely with them on our shared priorities.

Q Even somebody like General Schwarzkopf had significant criticism; said he was angry, actually, over the armor.

MR. McCLELLAN: And I told you what our view was. The President believes Secretary Rumsfeld is a — someone who is an important member of our team and someone who is helping us to move forward as we defeat the ideology of hatred that leads to terrorism. And he is instrumental in our efforts during this time of war we are in.


Q You say that Rumsfeld cares about soldiers. You say that he’s doing a tremendous job. But why the flippant comment, then, from Rumsfeld to the soldiers, when not only that, some of the critics of the White House are saying, why hasn’t this President at least slapped his hand — if he’s doing such a tremendous job he’s going to keep him, but just slap his hand for those comments. And they’re saying, maybe the President espouses what he’s saying; that’s why he’s not slapping his hand.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me tell you about the President’s views. The President made his views very clear in the Oval Office when he was asked about this matter. And he said, I can understand why the soldier who asked the question asked the question; if I were there, I would want to ask the same question. Our troops are leading the way to —

Q But it’s the remark, it’s about Rumsfeld’s remark, not the question —

MR. McCLELLAN: Our troops are leading the way to make America more secure and to make the world a better place. They’re on the front lines, serving and sacrificing in defense of freedom, and in defense of protecting everything that we value here in America. And we appreciate the job that they’re doing.

And now it’s time for your Les Kingsolving question of the day. Les seems to be living in the past (that’s our man Les in the center below, dressed as Confederate Brig. Gen. William Barksdale, who like Les was at one time a journalist when he edited the pro-slavery Columbus Democrat in the State of Mississippi).

At least today Les was living in fairly modern times, the year 2001 to be precise.

Q Scott, since page one of this morning’s Washington Times reports a federal grand jury investigation — they’re investigating Mark Rich’s role in the U.N. oil-for-food scandal — why isn’t it time for the President to nudge the U.S. Attorney for the seventh district of New York to complete the criminal investigation of Bill Clinton’s pardon-gate nearly four years ago, and his pardoning Rich, the fugitive? And I have a follow up.

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, those are matters for the proper authorities to handle, not the White House.