Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today’s gaggle reached a “critical moment” when one gaggler finally had enough of Scottie’s non-answers.

Q Scott, I understand there is an anniversary date next Tuesday, but you’re saying that this speech is happening, in part, because this is a critical moment, a critical time —

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s correct.

Q — in Iraq. What’s more critical about this month and this moment than, say, a month ago or nine months ago?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is a critical period. The transitional government is moving forward on drafting a constitution.


Q Is this moment any more critical than the critical moments you described in the run-up to the presidential election a year ago September/October, in the run-up to the election in Iraq last December/January? You said the same thing then, a “critical moment.”

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think you can go back and look at those time periods and look at what we said during that time period. This is a very critical period in Iraq. Here’s why: because the terrorists are trying to test our resolve, and they’re trying to shake the will of the international community and the Iraqi people. The terrorists, as General Abizaid —

Q They’ve been doing that for months, don’t you agree or —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, as General Abizaid talked about, there have been a growing number of foreign terrorists coming in to Iraq, because they recognize that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism. And, Bill, we are a nation that is at war. And the Commander-in-Chief believes it’s important to keep the American people informed about —

Q Yes, but what’s changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, are you going to let me finish, or are you going to keep jumping in?

Q Well, you said the same thing before, and I accept what you say. But what’s changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: I was just talking to you —

Q It’s the same condition that we found ourselves in a year ago.

MR. McCLELLAN: I was just outlining to you why it’s a critical period —

Q Yes, but it was a critical period for the same reason then.

MR. McCLELLAN: — in Iraq, and we are a nation at war. And the Commander-in-Chief has a responsibility to keep the American people informed about the progress we’re making and the strategy we have for succeeding.


Q Yes, but I mean, it’s the same thing that you’re saying.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that — no, it’s not. I think the American people want to hear from their Commander-in-Chief. And you may take it —

Q I’m not arguing about that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you may take a different view, but I think the American people want to hear from their Commander-in-Chief, and they will have the —

Q That’s not what I’m arguing about.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let’s go on if you’re not going to —

And, uh, about that speech… don’t expect much.

Q Scott, at the President’s prime time speech next Tuesday night, how specific is he going to be on a strategy going forward? And do you foresee a shift in strategy at all?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think we have a clear strategy that we have outlined. The President is going to be talking about our strategy for success.

Scottie received his full set of talking points on Unka Karl today, and the key words are “puzzling” and “Michael Moore”.

Q And yesterday after your explanation of Mr. Rove’s remarks the night before at the Conservative Union in New York, Democrats went to the Senate floor, held a news conference, pretty much teed off on this, calling for either an apology, one that they said had to be a profound apology. They called it gutter politics, nauseating and vulgar, and said that if Karl doesn’t apologize appropriately, he should be resigned and even suggested the President should apologize. What’s the thinking on it lately here?

MR. McCLELLAN: There’s no reason — no reason for that. It’s still puzzling why Democratic leaders were coming to the defense of liberal organizations like and people like Michael Moore. Karl was talking about the conservative philosophy and the liberal philosophy when it comes to the war on terrorism. And I think that he — again, go back and look. He was speaking to a political organization, the New York Conservative Party, and he was talking about different political philosophies. I think that’s what you do when you speak to political organizations.

And it’s just puzzling why Democratic leaders are trying to defend the views of people like Michael Moore and organizations like that took a very different view after the attacks of September 11th, after the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon here in Washington, D.C. And you can go back and look at some of the comments that they made. But had urged restraint and understanding, and they had said that we shouldn’t be using instruments of war, that we should look at international law, human rights law, and international organizations to indict people.

The President took a very different view, and conservatives have a very different view. And that’s what Karl was talking about. And many of the leaders who came out and, for whatever reason, started launching into attacks and trying to twist things around, stood with us in the aftermath of September 11th. There was a very united Congress when it came to how we proceed forward in the war on terrorism, in the aftermath of September 11th. So it’s just puzzling that they’re sitting there trying to defend these liberal views.

Let’s wrap up the week with your Daily Les. Today Les has his sights set on CHimpy’s faux-ranch.

Q Scott, I have a two-part question, the first one dealing with the great state of Texas.

MR. McCLELLAN: Do you ever have a one-part question? (Laughter.)

Q No. If I was on the front row, I’d get a six-part question. (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there’s a seat there and a seat there.

Q Suppose that McLennan County, Texas, decides that a center for slot machines would bring in much more revenue than the Bush ranch. Would the President try to fight the eminent domain, as now legalized by five members of the Supreme Court, by means of the Aderholt-Shelby bill, or how?

MR. McCLELLAN: You know, I don’t know of any attempt by McLennan County to do such a thing, first of all. And, second of all, if they did, it’s a matter for McLennan County to deal with. But I know of no such effort.

Q He would fight it, wouldn’t he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President has made his views clear when it comes to private property rights. In terms of Supreme Court decisions, we obviously have to respect the decisions of the Supreme Court.