Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today the Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor, Frances “Pinball Wizad” Townsend, was gaggled.

Q It’s been three-and-a-half years since the September 11th attacks, when the President first issued the call for the intelligence agencies to reform themselves to meet the threats of the 21st century. Here we have another report saying that they haven’t done that. Scott said it this morning, that they haven’t done that. What’s the problem? Is it that these agencies are so unwieldy that they can’t reform themselves? Have they not been listening to the President? What’s going on?

MS. TOWNSEND: Well, in fairness, I think the commission, when you look at the whole report — I grant you, it’s a large document — when you look at the whole report, even the commission acknowledges we’ve enjoyed some successes, particularly in the counterterrorism area, because of the efforts of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, the FBI — we have disrupted some plots. [That deaf, dumb, and blind boy… – snip-]

Q But the report would suggest that it’s far more than a few hiccups. It’s more like a massive case of gastroenteritis here that you’re trying to deal with. (Laughter.)

MS. TOWNSEND: Well, look, there is no —

Q With an additional case of diverticulitis on top of that. (Laughter.)

MS. TOWNSEND: No question, more needs to be done, and it will require the attention of the DNI.

On Schiavo, Chimpy plays Good Cop to DeLays Bad Cop.

Q On the Terri Schiavo case, in a statement, Tom DeLay expressed disappointment at federal courts for what he says was their ignoring the intent of the Terri Schiavo law. His statement actually was quite forceful. He said a time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Given the fact that the President felt strongly enough to interrupt his Easter recess to rush back here to Washington to sign that very legislation, does the President share that sentiment?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is always going to stand on the side of defending life. He’s made that very clear through his words, as well as through his action. We have taken important steps, through legislation, to promote a culture of life in America. But, ultimately, the President believes that we have to change our culture and we have to change hearts. And that’s something that will require continued diligence on behalf of all Americans who want to build a culture of life. There are many ways we can work together to promote a culture of life in America.

Now, in terms of this specific situation, I think you’ve heard the President’s views on it. We would have preferred a different decision from the courts. That’s why the President supported the legislation that was passed by Congress, and he is saddened by this situation, and he is saddened on this day.

Q Does he feel that the courts erred?

MR. McCLELLAN: He would have preferred a different outcome. But, ultimately, we have to follow our laws and abide by the courts.

But he’s not above sticking a shiv in the one honorable person involved in this mess.

Q Does the President have a message today specifically to Michael Schiavo?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you heard the President’s message earlier today.

And, yes, Les Kinsolving is back and he’s going after the Clenis.

Q One year ago, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York confirmed reports that for the fourth year, they were still conducting a criminal investigation of Bill Clinton for “pardongate.” And my first question, is this and the absence of any reported action on the Sandy Berger case due in any way to the President’s wish that neither of these two men go to prison, like Martha Stewart did?

MR. McCLELLAN: I still welcome you back to the briefing room. (Laughter.) Les, the President is very much focused on his agenda and on the future and how we can move forward together to get things done. I think those questions are best directed elsewhere.

Les also loves him some vigilantes.

Q The President’s fellow Republican and Congressman, Tom Tancredo, has announced that he will be in Tombstone, Arizona tomorrow to address the Minutemen and tell them they are not vigilantes, but a neighborhood watch to help the Border Patrol, because poll after poll reports that 80 percent of Americans want our borders secured against illegal entry. A question, does the President believe that Mr. Tancredo is right or wrong?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President agrees that we need to continue to take steps to improve our border enforcement. We’ve taken a lot of steps to better control our borders and to prevent people who shouldn’t be coming into this country from entering the country.

Q What about Tancredo?

MR. McCLELLAN: And in terms of the issue of the Minutemen, I think we talked about this on Tuesday. The views —

Q Does he agree with Tancredo or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: — the views I expressed the other day are still the same. If you’re talking about individuals who are looking at — for suspicious activity, it’s important that they report that activity to the proper authorities for action. And if you’re talking about people roaming around that are armed and untrained and seeking to take action into their own hands, that raises a lot of concerns.

Q Like the Minutemen? Are they armed and untrained?

MR. McCLELLAN: That raises a lot of concerns, because it can lead to people getting hurt. And that’s why the proper authorities are the Department of Homeland Security officials, and our border control agents who work on a daily basis to prevent people from entering this country.

Q You won’t even mention Tancredo. Has he been kind of wiped away or what? He’s your fellow Republican.

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think you’ve heard his views and you’ve heard the President’s views, as well. And what we need to do to —

Q Not on Tancredo, I haven’t.

MR. McCLELLAN: — you’ve heard the importance of making sure we have a safe, orderly and humane migration system. Members of Congress express their views all the time. The President does, too.

I may detest Les’ politics, but he’s no Jeff Gannon. Les asks adversarial questions, then follows up. That’s what the press is supposed to do.