Dammit, Scottie gets all snitified when you throw the Chimpster’s words back at him in the gaggle.
Q Let me ask you a question about elevating the tone, because, obviously, a lot of Americans are familiar with this talk from the President, even though it didn’t really come to pass after he was elected in 2000. The President has talked a lot recently about, in essence, trying to set the terms for how his critics should disagree with him on Iraq, what the responsible way is to do it and what the irresponsible way is to do it. So could you be a little bit more specific about what he thinks he can do to elevate the tone?
MR. McCLELLAN: Just exactly what he’s been doing throughout his administration. This President has always worked, whether it was when he was governor of Texas or since he’s been President of the United States, has always worked to reach out and elevate the discourse. If you look at his tone, this President has focused on how we can work together to get things done, and focused on what the American people expect us to do. And that’s what — and that’s what he will continue to do.
Q And then also equated Congressman Murtha to Michael Moore, when he questioned whether troops should be withdrawn, is that the sort of elevation in tone you’re talking about?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, we said that we have great respect for his service to the country.
Q You later said that.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we said that at the time. I correct you.
Q You said the President is going to continue doing what he’s doing in terms of elevating the tone in Washington. So to whom, exactly, is he referring?
MR. McCLELLAN: To elevating the tone?
MR. McCLELLAN: All of us. Both parties, to work together to get things done for the American people.
Q So everybody is kicking in the gutter, except him? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s not what he said. That’s what you said.
Q But he doesn’t need to elevate his tone, so are there some who don’t need to elevate their tone?
MR. McCLELLAN: He’s going to continue to. I think we’ve seen that — and it’s one of the things he’s talked about, Victoria. Maybe it’s a surprise to you, but this town has become pretty bitter over the course of the last several years, not just when this President has been in office, but even before that. And this President, when he — go back to his days as governor; he was able to reach out and work with Democrats and Republicans, alike, to get things done, and he was hoping we could have made more progress to elevate the tone in this city. But it requires both parties reaching out to one another.
Q So in terms of working together, is he prepared to compromise at all on the Patriot Act with the Senate?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we’ve made our views very clear on the Patriot Act. And it’s — unfortunately, there are some that have obstructed getting that renewed. And there was a compromise —
MR. McCLELLAN: I reject your characterization, because there was a conference committee that came together and they reached important compromises.
SOTU II: The Optimistic Incompetent
Q Scott, you say the President is going to be optimistic tomorrow and there’s been a lot of talk about being upbeat in his message. Many Americans believe that the President would have more credibility if he acknowledged some of the hardships that they’re facing, whether or not there are people who are still homeless from Katrina, or U.S. casualties in Iraq. Is he going to address any of those things?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President often talks about those issues. And I do expect he will talk about Iraq tomorrow in his remarks, and I do expect he will talk about the importance of continuing to meet the needs of the people throughout the Gulf Coast region who have been put in a terrible situation because of a storm of unprecedented magnitude and scope. And we have an obligation to continue making sure that their needs are met. We have already passed some $85 billion in resources that are available to help them. Only about $25 billion or a little bit more than that has been allocated to be spent at this point. There is enormous resources available. We are going to continue working to meet their needs. And the President made it clear that, if needed, we will continue to build upon those efforts.
Anyway, go ahead. Did you have a follow-up?
Q Is that one of his initiatives, the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. I mean, that’s one of his initiatives now. But I’m talking about new initiatives now.
SOTU II: Old Friends
Q Is he going to talk about the record oil — the record profits of Exxon released today? Is he going to address that issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you’ll hear his speech tomorrow, and he’ll talk about what we need to do and the kinds of alternative sources of energy we need to look to in his remarks.
Q But is he going to make any reference to —
MR. McCLELLAN: But not only that — again, tomorrow night, the State of the Union, there’s only so much you can say in the course of that time period on each priority area…
The Optimistic Incompetent Returns
Q According to data currently available at the Department of Homeland Security Funded Terrorism Knowledge Base, the incidents of terrorism increased markedly in 2005: worldwide attacks were up 51 percent from the year before, and the number of people killed in those attacks is up 36 percent; since the year 2000, attacks are up 250 percent, and deaths are up 550 percent. How do you reconcile those numbers with your claim that you’re winning the war on terrorism and putting terrorists out of business?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, just look at the facts. If you look at the facts, many of al Qaeda’s known leadership have been put out of business. They’ve been brought to justice. They’ve either been captured or killed. No longer is America waiting and responding. We’re on the offense; we’re taking the fight to the enemy. We are engaged in a war on terrorism. The enemies recognize how high the stakes are. And one thing the President will talk about, continue to talk about tomorrow night and in the coming weeks, is that we continue to face a serious threat. This is a deadly and determined enemy. But the difference is now that we’ve got them on the run, we’ve got them playing defense, we’re taking the fight to them. And all of us in the international community must continue to work together…