Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

In today’s gaggle Little Scottie opens with a preview of Chimpy’s speech tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the President will also talk about the strategy for success. He will talk in a very specific way about the way forward. There is a clear path to victory. It is a two-track strategy: there is the military and political track. On the military front, it’s important to continue training and equipping the Iraqi security forces so that they’re able to defend themselves, and then our troops can return home with the honor that they deserve. And then there is the political track. The Iraqi people are showing that they’re determined to build a free and democratic and peaceful future, and we must continue to do all we can to support them as they build a lasting democracy.

But will we hear anything new or different?

Q Scott, are there new details in the strategy for success? Is there a new direction, or is the President basically summing up what he has said before?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, this is a new speech. And the President will be talking in a very specific way about the strategy for succeeding in Iraq. And he will talk about the two-track strategy that we have in place.


Q Well, I guess what I’m asking is, are people going to hear things they haven’t heard the President say before? Are there new details?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think many Americans have not heard much of what the President has to say tomorrow night.


Q The question is, is there a new direction, though, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: You’re going to hear from the President tomorrow night. I think we have a clear strategy for success. He’s going to be talking in a very specific way about what that strategy is. It’s an opportunity for the American people to hear about the strategy.

Q Isn’t the message really more patience? Isn’t that really what the President is going to be requesting, something he’s —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think if you go back to September 11th — remember, on September 11th the threats of the 21st century were brought to our shores. We saw in a very clear way the threats that we face on that day.


Q Scott, just to follow up on what Terry was trying to ask — you said the President is going to get very specific. I understand he’s not going to shift strategy at all. But, in terms of specifics, is it going to be the kind of thing where he’s going to talk about how many battalions have been trained in Iraq? Is that the kind of thing you think that Americans don’t know about? Or is it going to be, you know, presenting new initiatives and new ideas, things we don’t know about?

MR. McCLELLAN: Now, this is starting to get more into the speech, and that’s for the President —

Q I’m just trying to —

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but that’s for the President to do tomorrow night. You’re going to hear all this tomorrow night. He will talk about the importance of training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and where we are in terms of making progress to do that. There has been a lot of important progress made. Iraqi forces are standing and fighting the insurgents, and standing and fighting with coalition forces, they’re doing it on their own. The Iraqi people are also coming forward, providing more intelligence to help defeat the terrorists and go after them where they are.


Q I guess my question is, beyond discussing, perhaps in great detail, what’s already going on right now, is he going to offer new ideas, new initiatives, either from the U.S. — joint initiatives with the U.S. and other countries — in order to make what he says the goal — is possible?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I would describe it the way I did. You’re going to hear him talk about the strategy we have for succeeding in Iraq, the strategy we have for victory, and where we are in terms of implementing that strategy.

Regarding all that “progress” in Iraq…

Q Scott, if so much progress has been made in Iraq, why is the public support dropping so steadily?

MR. McCLELLAN: If so much progress has been made? I think we can go through and talk about the progresses made. There has been —

Q The question is why —

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been significant progress made in just a year’s time. It takes time to build a democracy. Our own nation went through a lot of struggles before we were able to build the kind of democracy that thrives today.

Q But why is public support dropping so much?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we’re a nation at war, and war is something that is very tough. It is tough to see the images of violence on the screens of our televisions.

What’s this? Investigative reporting in the gaggle? Who ever heard of such a thing?

Q When the President talks about high gasoline prices, he often cites the demand for gasoline and crude oil from China. Is the President comfortable that the company partly owned by his campaign media advisor is assisting the Chinese in their attempt to purchase Unocal?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of that matter, we are following those reports closely. If a bid were to go through, like all foreign-based transactions, there is a regulatory process that is in place that will be followed to address any national security concerns. So in other words, there are procedures in place, and if a bid goes through, then we would expect the appropriate procedures to be followed.

Q But is he comfortable with this company that was so closely aligned with his —

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know about any such involvement.

Q Well, Public Strategies out of Austin, Texas is helping CNO buy Unocal.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you have to look at what I just said. That’s the — that’s the President’s view when it comes to this matter.

Q But it’s just that it’s a really close tie to the White House, and would the President be comfortable in using this company again for any further media strategies that he may have to engage in, or is this just part of free enterprise?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President would want to make sure that the procedures that are in place are followed, and that’s what we would expect if a bid goes through.

Finally, a Plame question that could have been answered with a simple No.

Q Two questions. First, you’ve said in the past that, on the matter of Matt Cooper and Judith Miller that the President supports the investigation. What specific steps is the White House taking to support it? Has the President called people into the Oval Office?

MR. McCLELLAN: What I said is the President wants to get to the bottom of the investigation; no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than he does. It is a very serious matter and the President has said that if anybody has information, they ought to provide that information to the prosecutor so that they can continue forward on their investigation.

Q Has he called specific people into the Oval Office to ask them if they —

MR. McCLELLAN: What we made a decision to do was to support the efforts of the independent prosecutor to move forward on the investigation and that’s what we’re doing. If there are any specific questions you have about individuals, those are questions that are best directed to the special prosecutor in this matter.