Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Let’s begin today’s gaggle with the age-old question, what’s Big Time Dick up to these days?

Q In the Vice President’s speech this morning, he said — and this was in the context of the war in Iraq — he said, “We weren’t in Iraq on September the 11th, and the terrorists hit us anyway.” Why does the Vice President continue to give the impression that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was connected with the September the 11th attacks, when the President has conceded that they were not, and the 9/11 Commission conceded they were not?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t think that does. I don’t think that does. But I think what you have to understand about September 11th is that September 11th taught us some important lessons: one, that we need to take the fight to the enemy and engage them abroad to prevent attacks from happening here at home — that’s the best way we can protect the American people. And two, to address the root causes that lead to people flying planes into buildings or strapping on bombs and blowing themselves up and killing innocent men, women, and children. And that means spreading freedom in the broader Middle East and changing the status quo.

[Blah-blah – Middle East is scary — SNIP!]

Q “We weren’t in Iraq on September 11th and the terrorists hit us anyway.” Would you not agree that there’s some linkage there?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think he’s making the point that the President made last week, that those who suggest that if we weren’t in Iraq, that the terrorists would just be idle. That’s an absurd allegation, because the terrorists are determined to spread their fear and chaos and violence throughout the civilized world. They attacked us well before we were in Iraq; they attacked other countries well before any decisions were made to go into Iraq.

Q The Vice President —

MR. McCLELLAN: They continue to try to carry out the attacks. That’s why it’s so important that we’re engaging the enemy in Iraq, that we’re taking the fight to them there. And all you have to do is look back at the letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi to see the nature of the enemy that we face and what they recognize is involved in Iraq, because they have said themselves that when we succeed in Iraq, it will be a major blow to their ambitions. And that’s why we are going to continue to move forward toward victory, because it is critical to prevailing in the broader war on terrorism.

Q Does the Vice President now agree that Saddam Hussein’s arrest was not involved in September 11th?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those questions have been gone over ad nauseam in the past. Thanks.

“Thanks”? “THANKS”!?!?!

OK, then, remind us again — just why did we invade Iraq?

Q All right, well, just to be clear about something, we didn’t go to Iraq to spread democracy, did we? I mean, we didn’t go to Iraq to help the Iraqi people. It was initially a security issue — just to be clear on that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we spelled out the reasons we went to Iraq, and I would encourage you to go back and look at that. We have liberated 25 million people in Iraq, and 25 million people in Afghanistan. And spreading —

Q But it wasn’t the reason we went —

MR. McCLELLAN: — spreading freedom and democracy — well, we’re not going to re-litigate the reasons why we went into Iraq. We’ve made very clear what the reasons were. And, no, I don’t think you define them accurately by being so selective in the question.

[Blah-blah — September 11th! — support democracy in the Middle East — SNIP!]

Q But just to be clear, that’s a different argument than was made to the American people before the war —

MR. McCLELLAN: Our arguments are very public. You can go and look at what the arguments were. That’s not what I was talking about.

Go ahead.

Now that he’s cleared that up, here’s your Daily Les.

Q National Christmas Tree lighting last week the President said, “Each year we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy, and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity. Santa, thanks for coming.” And the question: Will the President apologize to Christians offended by his referring to Jesus as Santa?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President meant exactly what he said, Les.