Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Pony Blow engaged in a bit of gaggling this morning aboard Air Force One en route to Chicago.

Pony is all cagey and shit about pulling troops out of Iraq, but don’t be surprised if Bush and Blair announce a limited drawdown when they meet.

Q What’s the purpose of the Blair-Bush meeting?

MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, the Prime Minister has been in Iraq, so what I think what they’re going to be doing is talking about Iraq and the next steps forward.

Q Does he want to pull troops out, or what’s the — he said over the weekend, or there have been reports over the weekend that he’s anxious to pull troops out.

MR. SNOW: Well, I can’t speak for what the Prime Minister is going to do; he may report on his desires. Prime Minister Maliki has also said that he would like Iraqi forces to be taking — asserting much more control by the end of the year.

As we’ve always said — and Prime Minister Blair reiterated this yesterday — I mean, today, as least as far as the readout I’ve gotten — which is it’s all conditions-based. The conditions on the ground still determine how long troops stay there.

[snip]

Q With a unified unity government now in place, what are the chances that American troops will start pulling out before the end of this year?

MR. SNOW: Well, once again, it’s all conditions-based. You don’t simply say because you have a government you pull out. The President has been pretty clear, troops will return when they’re no longer needed. And it is still our desire to see that the Iraqi military and police forces are trained up and capable of providing for public security in Iraq.

Q But you have seven months ahead, so is the seven months enough time to just — my question is, what is your assessment, I guess, of what Iraq is going to do in the next seven months, if you’re not willing to say that seven months is enough time to begin pulling troops out?

MR. SNOW: Well, if you can tell me exactly what’s going to happen in the next seven months, I’ll give you an answer.