Welcome to my gaggle obsession, this edition is 100% rove-free.
For starters, ABC’s Terry Moran just won’t let go of the last throe.
Q Does the President agree with the Vice President that the Iraqi insurgents are in their last throes?
MR. McCLELLAN: He agrees with — I think you should put his comments in context,
Helpful Holden Note: Here is what Cheney said in context:
“The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”
And now I return you to Scottie’s blathering.
because the President agrees that there is significant progress being made by the Iraqi people on the political front. And that’s what the Vice President was talking about in his remarks. [That’s a lie Scottie, didn;’t you read his comments in context?] He was talking about the significant progress that’s being made, and he was talking about how the terrorists, the ruthless enemy that we’re working to defeat, along with the Iraqi security forces, has not been able to stop that progress.
There are real challenges that lie ahead, and the Vice President talked about that in the context of his remarks. The stakes are very high. That’s why it’s important we continue to support the Iraqi people as they move forward.
So I think you have to look at the context of his remarks, as I’ve talked about over recent days.
Q Do you think that the insurgency is growing weaker? Or is it getting stronger?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the commanders on the ground were just briefing on that, Terry. You should look to General Abizaid’s comment, and he talked about that. Look at exactly what he said. There is a determined and ruthless enemy that we face in Iraq. They have made this a central front in the war on terrorism. The stakes are very high. That enemy recognizes how high those stakes are. We recognize how high the stakes are. And the Iraqi people recognize how high the stakes are.
Q So stronger, not weaker?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, the commanders are briefing right now, and they are the ones who are on the ground. They are in the best position to give you that. General Abizaid just spoke about it a short time ago and talked about the determined and ruthless enemy that we’re facing. Foreign terrorists are coming to Iraq because they recognize how high the stakes are. Well, we do, too. That’s why we’re fighting them in Iraq and that’s why we’re going to defeat them in Iraq.
Q But he seems to have contradicted — Abizaid seems to have contradicted what the Vice President said, on the face of it.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think you have to look at the context of the Vice President’s comments.
Q I did, I looked.
MR. McCLELLAN: And you don’t point them out. What did he talk about?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we can selectively quote people or we can look at the context of the comments, and I think that’s what is important to do. That’s why I was stepping back and pointing out to you what the Vice President was talking about.
Q So he was talking about the political process moving forward, not — let me ask you this. What is the Vice President basing his — where is he getting his evidence? What is he basing his claim on, if the commanders on the ground are saying —
MR. McCLELLAN: It doesn’t appear that you’ve looked at the context of his comments, and I would encourage you to do that. And I just addressed this question when you asked it.
Q I was there in this — when he said, “in the throes of,” —
MR. McCLELLAN: You were in the interview?
Q He did not mean political, he meant the whole situation in Iraq.
MR. McCLELLAN: You were in the interview? I think you should look —
Q You can’t change his meaning. You guys are trying to step back now, and I don’t blame you.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I disagree with you.
Go ahead though, Jessica.
That’s right folks, you can’t judge anything Cheney said about the insurgency being in its “last throes” unless you were actually in the room with him during the interview. Yet another new standard that the White House press corps must meet.
Let’s close with your Daily Les. Today, Les thinks Trent Lott deserves a commendation.
Q Scott, yesterday you, as the President’s spokesman, warmly commended Senator Durbin for his apologizing for what you called the reprehensible and Mayor Kelly called a disgraceful statement about our U.S. troops. But I can’t remember any such White House commendation of Senator Lott for his apology in 2002. And my first question, did you or Ari Fleischer ever publicly commend Senator Lott for his apology, and what did you say if you did?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, that matter was addressed long ago and I don’t think there’s anything else to add to it.