Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

They held the gaggle on board Air Force One again today. Damn, I hate that — no Helen Thomas, no Les Kinsolving. They’re half my schtick!

Oh, well, I guess we’ll have to settle for Scottie denying the obvious again.

Q When Allawi says that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, what is he talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that General Casey and the Vice President talked about that very issue yesterday. They talked about their views of the situation on the ground. General Casey is someone who is on the ground and has a firsthand account of what is taking place, as is our ambassador, Ambassador Khalilzad and they’ve expressed their views of the situation on the ground.

The situation remains tense, and the President will talk about that. There continues to be sectarian strife, but what you are seeing is that the Iraqi political leaders are coming together to form a government of national unity.


Q The President had expressed so much confidence in the past in Allawi, does this leader no longer have any credibility?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll let him speak for himself. I mean, all I can do is speak to what our people on the ground are seeing and what the Iraqi people are showing. And the Iraqi people are showing that they want to live in freedom and democracy. They’ve shown that time and time again — most recently, when more than 11 million showed up at the polls to elect a representative government, a government that is now moving forward on coming into place.

Q What conditions would have to be met to have a civil war? In other words, what conditions are not in effect now that lead you to say there is not a civil war?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you can, again, look back at what General Casey said yesterday. And I think — I’ll tell you, you know, the Iraqi people have continued to come together because they want to chart their own future. Iraqi political and religious leaders have continued to urge calm and restraint in the aftermath of some of the attacks that took place, particularly the attack on the Golden Mosque.

A question, to which the shorter answer is no.

Q Scott, do you think the President’s speeches on the global war on terrorism, do you think they’re getting through to the American people?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we remain a nation engaged in war, and I think it’s important for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to continue to update the American people about the progress we’re making. And I think what’s important here on the Iraq speeches is this is ongoing. This is part of a series of speeches. So it’s important to continue to put Iraq in the broader context of the nature of the enemy we face and the kind of war that we’re engaged in. Iraq is critical to those efforts. Success in Iraq will help inspire reformers in the broader Middle East, and help our efforts to advance freedom in that troubled part of the world.

And so the President will continue to talk about it in the broader context, as well as talking in specific detail about our strategy that we have in place. And it’s something that he will continue to do as we move forward. It’s an important role that the Commander-in-Chief has.