Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Let’s start with Social Security, and the embarrassing leak of an internal White House strategy memo.

Q And one more question about Mr. Wehner’s memo. He says — and this is to conservative members of Congress — he says, “If we succeed in reforming Social Security, it will rank as one the most significant conservative governing achievements ever,” and he goes on to say that — he says that the Democratic Party is the party of the past on this issue. “For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win. And in doing so we can help transform the political landscape of the country.” Is this a political effort by the President to strengthen the Republican Party?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, it says more than just what you pointed out, I would just say.

Q But it also says this.

MR. McCLELLAN: But this would be an important achievement for all the American people.

Q And for the Republicans.

Nailed him on that one. And this so-called “crisis” – just what kind of timeframe are we talking about here, Scottie?

Q Scott, you have said that Social Security is in a crisis, it’s in a crisis situation, it faces a crisis, faces long-term crisis. Which is it?

MR. McCLELLAN: A number of people have said that on both sides of the aisle. A number of leaders and statesmen have said that.

Q Well, is it an immediate problem, or are you facing a crisis in the future, because if you’re facing it in the future but it isn’t one now, then is it accurate to say that we’re in a crisis?

On to the electoral challenge. Or perhaps not, because Little Scottie says we have no problems whatsoever with our electoral system.

Q And then the second question real quick, going back to Ohio, going back to Mark’s question, you talked about conspiracy theories; people need to let go of conspiracy theories. Well, does the administration understand that the voting system still in America has problems, and that is some of the reason why there are people who consider conspiracy theories? What do you say to the fact that people are considering issues that the elections process is flawed? You have machines that are flawed, that you don’t have a paper trail. What do you say about that?

MR. McCLELLAN: How many times were the votes counted in Ohio?

Q Excuse me?

MR. McCLELLAN: How many times were the votes counted in Ohio?

Q But that leads to the fact that —

MR. McCLELLAN: How many times were the votes counted in Ohio?

Q That leads to the fact there was a problem. What do you say about that?

MR. McCLELLAN: That the decision in the election was very clear. It was a decisive win, and the American people want us to get about doing their business. That’s what I say.

Go ahead.

Q But when can we get the elections process right for —

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m going to move on. Go ahead.

Q — for us not to have to keep recounting like Ohio?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

And finally, there goes Helen Thomas gettin’ all moral and shit.

Q Scott?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Helen.

Q On the question of malpractice, does the President think there is any price tag you can put on the loss of a limb, through bad surgery, your eyes, or anything else? Is there any money — why is it that he has never, never accused the HMOs and the insurance companies of jacking up the price?

MR. McCLELLAN: People who have been harmed should have their day in court. That’s what the President believes and that’s one of the first —

Q He believes they can arrive at any price?

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s one of the first priorities of his plan to reform our medical liability laws. There is a very real problem in this country when it comes to our medical liability laws. As you heard the President talk about yesterday, there are doctors being forced to shut down their practice, there are being doctors forced to leave one state to go to another state before they — because they can’t afford to keep their practice open. And what you’re seeing is that pregnant mothers, like the one the President met with yesterday, are having to switch doctors constantly. She went through — she’s on her third doctor now, a pregnant mother who is soon going to deliver another baby.

Q Well, why do you put a cap on any kind of settlement?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes that there ought to be reasonable caps on non-economic damages and punitive damages, but the people who are truly harmed and wronged ought to have their day in court and ought to have fair compensation for that.

Q Any amount?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Sarah.