Today on Holden’s Obsession with the [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

From Holden:

Inclement weather lead to a power outage which in turn lead to a delay in yesterday’s gaggle obsession. Which is a shame, because it was a nice one. Click the link to see Scottie twist himself in knots over the question of whether or not we are fighting an insurgency in Iraq.

For this edition of Holden’s Obsession, I give you the fabulous Helen Thomas.

Read in delight as Helen ties the Assministration’s incompetence in Iraq to Chimpy’s Big Oil buddies.

Q Scott, in the Iraq’s reconstruction costs, how much of that should be paid for by Iraq with its oil revenues?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Iraq’s oil revenues are for the Iraqi people.


Q But the reconstruction is for the Iraqi people, too, so how much of that reconstruction cost —

MR. McCLELLAN: And it’s not just — and I’ll point out, it’s not just Americans helping, it’s the international community that is stepping forward and helping. And the President touched on that in his remarks, as well.

Q So are oil revenues excluded from reconstruction?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. I mean, it’s for the Iraqi people.

Q Right. So how much of the reconstruction costs —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you might want to go and look at our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. You can go to the White House website,, and look it up. And it talks about the oil sector and the progress that’s being made there. And it talks about electricity, as well, within there, and it lays out some of the challenges that lie ahead. In terms of specific amounts, I mean I think the oil production recently has been relatively steady, but there are challenges we still need to address with that.

Here’s where Helen trips Scottie up with Big Oil.

Q How much do the American oil companies expect to get out of this oil? I understand they’re negotiating for about 66 percent, a lion’s share of being able to take it over.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t speak for those companies, you’d have to ask them.

Q You don’t speak for them, but would they be — are they negotiating now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it’s up to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to determine what relationships and partnerships they build.

Q But they’re not free to determine it, we’re in control of Iraq, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, they are in control of their oil resources.

She’s on a roll now, time to slap Scottie with the Chimpster’s words.

Q And I have one more question. How do you define “complete” — how does the President define “complete victory in Iraq”?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he actually defines “victory” in his remarks. He talked about that today. Victory is when the terrorists and Saddam loyalists no longer threaten Iraq’s democracy. Victory is when the Iraqi security forces can protect their citizens. And victory is achieved when Iraq is not a safe haven from which terrorists can plot attacks against America and others in the civilized world.

Q — people defending their own country, aren’t they? Are they all terrorists?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. The President actually talked about the enemy. They fit into three different categories. And he talked abut the Saddam loyalists who want to return to the past, the dark past. We’re seeing the brutalities of the past come out now in a trial that’s being held to hold Saddam Hussein and his leaders accountable for the atrocities they committed —

Q We didn’t go in there to save them —

MR. McCLELLAN: — and we’re also seeing that the Iraqi people are determined to build a democratic future. And so the terrorists — the terrorists are the smallest, but most lethal group, and the President talked about that in his remarks. And then there’s some rejectionists or fence-sitter types that are — that, more and more, are being won over to the political process. They are largely Sunni Arabs who, before, realized a lot of power because they were the privileged — they had privileges of the few. But a democracy gives everybody a voice. And that’s what — I think people around the world want. They want to live in freedom.

Q — being killed in their own country, aren’t they, a lot of them?

MR. McCLELLAN: The Iraqi people have made tremendous sacrifices. Our troops have made enormous sacrifices to lay the foundations of peace for generations to come and help transform the broader Middle East, which has been a dangerous region of the world that has been a breeding ground for terrorism. That’s why it’s so important —

Helen frustrates Scottie to the point where he conflates Iraq with September 11th.

Q It wasn’t a breeding ground before we went in.

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, if we weren’t fighting the terrorists in Iraq, they would be planning and plotting to attack America.

Q How do you know that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Because they attacked us on September 11th, they attacked us — they attacked people in London, they attacked people in Madrid, they have attacked people across the civilized world.

Go ahead, Martha.

Mmmmmmm…. that was nice.

Now, my favorite question from yesterday. Soak in it, friends.

Q Scott, the audience that watched the President’s speech today was more subdued than some that he’s appeared before recently, where there were — to use the phrase — a lot of applause lines in front of military crowds and so forth. Did the President have any reaction to how he was received today, and the absence of those kind of “hoo-hah” lines?