Ah, someone asked a question that’s been on my mind since the Palestinian election results rolled in yesterday: Chimpy keeps babbling that “democracies yield the peace” and that “History has proven that democracies are peaceful — yield the peaceful countries.” So how does he (or during the gaggle, Little Scottie) reconcile that strange notion with the fact that in some instances democracies choose as their leaders people who are war-like and violent (as this country is said to have done in 2004)?
Watch Scottie squirm with that one.
Q How can you describe a belief that the Palestinian people, through their vote, wanted peace, when they voted for a group that does espouse violence and maintains an armed militia? Those things seem to be in conflict.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, I think the President actually addressed that yesterday in his remarks. He talked about the power of democracy. Democracy puts the people in charge. And the people want peace; the people want responsive government. And they voted to change the status quo. And the President said it should be an eye opener to people in the — leaders in the Palestinian Territory. They voted to change the status quo. They’re concerned about things like corruption in the government. They were concerned about making sure that their needs were being met. And democracy leads to government that is responsive. And if it’s not responsive, then the people have the opportunity to hold that government accountable and change.
Q But they also chose a group that has violent intentions.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I just pointed — what the President pointed out yesterday, you have to look at what they voted for. It was voting for change. But the aspirations of the Palestinian people is one of peace. The Palestinian people believe in an open and tolerant society, and they believe in a diversity of views. I think we’ve seen that through their actions. They also want government that is responsive to their needs. And in terms of Hamas, as we’ve said, our views remain unchanged.
Oh-kay, so Scottie can’t answer that. Let’s move on to AbramOffal.
Q — touch on a separate topic, you may want to come back to Hamas. Senator Reid and Senator Schumer are asking for a more full cooperation on the Abramoff situation with releasing all contacts, WHCA and phone logs, and all of those sorts of things. What is your — we’ve talked about this a lot, but what is your response, specifically, to that, and their request for —
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President made very clear what our views were. And Mr. Abramoff was involved in wrongdoing. He has admitted wrongdoing. It was outrageous behavior. The Department of Justice is holding him to account for that wrongdoing, and the career team over at the Department of Justice is continuing to investigate the matter, as they should. And the President — beyond that, the President made pretty clear what our views were.
And another non-answer from Scottie. What about the Medicare prescription drug debacle?.
Q And, also, on Medicare prescription drug program, since it took effect, some drug companies have discontinued their patient assistance program, which means up to 1 million disabled and elderly are no longer getting free medication. Is the administration trying to address this problem?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the neediest Americans, the neediest seniors and people with disabilities are fully covered under Medicare and getting their prescription drug coverage free of charge. That was why it was important to move forward and pass Medicare reform to provide seniors and people with disabilities with the kind of drug coverage that members of Congress have already had.
And this President led on that effort to modernize Medicare, provide better benefits and more choices. And people that fall into the categories of the lowest income Americans and the neediest Americans, and those people with disabilities are automatically enrolled in the new Medicare program, where they are getting prescription drug coverage. And as I said, the neediest are getting that coverage free. And then those that are lower-income, maybe not the neediest, are realizing almost completely free prescription drug coverage, if not free drug coverage under this Medicare program.
Many Americans, many seniors that previously did not have prescription drug coverage are now getting it and realizing significant savings. And we’re in the middle of a very large transition, and the Department of Health and Human Services and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service is working to correct any problems as we move forward on a transition, and working to make sure that seniors are getting the drugs they need.
Q But, excuse me, the problem is, some critics have said, that under this current program, you would have to basically have up to $5,000 in drug costs before catastrophic insurance would kick in. That would be close to $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses by some that are not covered —
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has said very clearly that the government has a responsibility to make sure that we’re meeting the health care needs of the poorest Americans and our elderly, and that we have an obligation to do that. And we also have an obligation to address rising health care costs. That’s why the President is moving forward on initiatives to make health care more affordable, accessible, and portable. That’s an important aspect to keep in mind, as well.
But this Medicare legislation is providing seniors and people with disabilities with the kind of coverage that they didn’t have before. And many Americans are realizing significant savings. And I think if you ask people in the program, many of those seniors who are now receiving that coverage will say it’s working very well for them. For those who are transitioning and there’s still some glitches, we’re working to address that, working with the states very closely.
Oh my god, Scottie won’t even admit that the plan has experienced some major problems (to put it mildly)acularly. Maybe it has something to do with his brother’s leadership. OK, then, how’s Chimpy doing on his self-professed most important job: protecting us from those scary terrorists?
Q This is my question — I have two. A tunnel half a mile long has been discovered between Mexico and the United States. This well-constructed tunnel was reportedly used to smuggle drugs. But a Homeland Security official says, it could also have been used by terrorists to transport people and weapons into the U.S. Is the President concerned that homeland security is almost impossible when our southern border can be so easily penetrated?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we commend our customs and border officials for the job that they do. They were — they have discovered some tunnels recently, and it’s important that those tunnels be shut down — and that’s what they’re doing — for whatever purpose that they’re serving, whether it’s to smuggle people illegally into the country, or for drug trafficking. And so we commend them for the work that they’re doing.
And we also have some other concerns that we’ve been focused on recently, as well, when it comes to border security. But our border security officials are working round-the-clock to step up efforts to enforce our borders, and we appreciate the job that they do. And you just pointed out one example of success.
I see. A tunnel under the border, through which we have no idea what or whom may have entered the country, is an “example of success.” This is getting silly, so we might as well close with your Daily Les.
Q Scott, I have a two-part. Within hours of the President’s statement “a political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform is a party with which we will not deal,” former President Jimmy Carter held a news conference in Jerusalem, where The Jerusalem Post reports he “urged the international community to directly or indirectly fund the new Palestinian government, even though it will be led by an internationally declared terror organization.” And my first question. Does the White House know of any Jimmy Carter plea for the support of a mafia? And why would that be any worse than this?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President made his views pretty clear yesterday that you can’t be a partner in peace if you have as part of your platform the destruction of Israel. The President wants peace. I think the Palestinian people want peace. And that’s what we’re committed to. We’re committed to the vision that the President outlined. And many others are, as well, and that’s where we are.
Q So what about President Carter? What does he have to say about President Carter?
MR. McCLELLAN: You want to ask President Carter, you can ask President Carter about his remarks. But we’ve made our views very clear.