Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Pony Blow opened today’s gaggle by calling Condoleezza Rice a liar.

Also — oh, yes, I speculated about whether Condoleezza Rice or anybody here had spoken with Prime Minister Maliki, and the answer is, no, the people on the ground, Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey, have spoken with him.

Big Question: Is Pony Blow Stupid or Just Playing Dumb?

I say he’s stupid, and I offer as evidence his complete lack of knowledge regarding what constitutes a Civil Right.

Whether it passes or not, as you know, Terry, there have been a number of cases where civil rights matters have arisen on a number of occasions and they’ve been brought up for repeated consideration by the United States Senate and other legislative bodies.

[snip]

Q You mentioned civil rights. Are you comparing this to various civil rights measures which have come to the Congress over the years? Is this a civil right?

MR. SNOW: Marriage? It actually — what we’re really talking about here is an attempt to try to maintain the traditional meaning of an institution that has maintained one meaning for a period of centuries, and for —

Q Do you equate that with civil rights?

MR. SNOW: No, I’m just saying, I think — well, I don’t know. How do you define civil rights?

Q It’s not up to me; up to you.

MR. SNOW: Well, no, it’s your question. So I need to get a more precise definition.

[snip]

Q Tony, you talked on the issue of civil rights as it relates to this marriage amendment. Will there be a civil rights violation for gays if the amendment does go through? Was that reflected —

MR. SNOW: A civil rights violation for gays? No, the President has made it clear, he wants people to be able to live their private lives as they see fit.

Q Wouldn’t that —

MR. SNOW: What do you mean, a “civil rights violation”? Do you mean that it would be a violation of civil rights to be gay?

Q No, no, no, but it would — would gays be able to file civil rights lawsuits because they are not allowed to marry? Civil rights issues — you tried to get into the definition of civil rights, and wrongs against — knowing wrongs against a group, okay, that group would be, indeed, wronged, they feel, if they are not allowed to marry in this country.

MR. SNOW: April, as you know, that’s a very contentious legal issue which I cannot decide up here. Obviously, anything that would happen would be heavily litigated, and we would have to see how the courts came out on it.

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From Holden:

Is Pony Blow Stupid?

He has no concept of States’ Rights.

Q Second, the President is generally a state’s rights kind of guy on issues. Why not on this issue?

MR. SNOW: He is. I mean, that’s exactly what he is, and I’ll tell you why. And I’m glad you asked, Ken, because state’s rights — here you have, in a number of states, including Massachusetts where the voters said, we want marriage to be defined as a man and a woman. The courts said, no. The people you ought to be asking about the sovereign rights of states may be state and federal courts which had been overturning what the states either legislatively — or through ballot initiative — have gone ahead and tried to inscribe into their own state laws. So I would argue that the President is trying to preserve the state’s rights in this particular case.

Q But he was trying to prevent — if there is a state out there where the people want this, he does want to allow that to happen?

MR. SNOW: Well, that is a hypothetical in this particular case, because I’m not aware of any state where that has achieved majority status.

Q But why not allow a state to do what it wants? What’s different about this issue, than, say, death penalty? Why not have a federal amendment dictating how you do death penalty?

MR. SNOW: Because marriage is a unique institution in the history of American society —

Q The death penalty —

MR. SNOW: You can name a whole lot of issues that are important, but —

Q And he usually does, in supporting letting states make their decisions.

MR. SNOW: And again, I’m telling you that in this particular case — we’re talking past each other. What you’re saying is that by coming up with a uniform definition of marriage you’re getting in the way of states. It could be — it is pretty obvious at this point that there are a number of judges around the country who are reading into the Constitution something the President does not believe is there. And furthermore, they are doing it despite the expressed opinions of people living in those states.

So what is he trying to do? He is acknowledging, more in sorrow than anything else, that this may in fact require a constitutional amendment, which is the point. As you know, the Court has been all over the place when it comes to the death penalty. The reason why is the Court has sort of had its say now on the death penalty, and it has said everybody can decide.

Is Pony Blow Stupid?

He’s dumbstruck by the idea that a guest worker program will depress Workers’ Wages.

Q And also, on immigration — I tried to bring this up last week — your first day, I asked you a question about people of color being pitted against black Americans in the President’s temporary worker program. And you said something to affect that — well, you said something to do with — many of your critics are saying, how could you say that?

[Blow response clipped]

Q But the major issue is also that it drives down wages. And many of the immigrants are not allowed to negotiate. Those are the standard issues the critics are throwing at this administration, when you say about the fact that it drives down wages —

MR. SNOW: I’m not sure it drives down — you mean it drives down wages?

Q Yes, it drives down wages.

MR. SNOW: Look, there’s wage competition throughout the economy. That typically happens. What you will always find, as a matter of fact, when people are embarked upon any form of economic enterprise, there are going to be attempts to hold down costs, to provide services to consumers for less money. And that’s true whether you’re talking about an immigrant population or Microsoft.

Helen tries to focus on what’s important to the American People.

Q Just as the war in Iraq is escalating, and there are so many issues on the table, the President spent two days on this gay marriage. Isn’t that a bit frivolous?

MR. SNOW: You’re assuming, Helen, that he’s spent each and every moment. Today he’s met with two heads of state, he’s had a half-hour phone conversation with another head of state, he’s meeting with a delegation from China.

Q Well, there are real issues that affect every American, and that isn’t one of them, but war is. And why isn’t the President dealing with this at all? Who’s problem is —

MR. SNOW: Are you assuming that the President is not dealing with — again, the President, believe it or not, he can deal with more than one issue at a time, and I’ve tried to make it the point —

Q Is he concerned about the escalation of the war in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: The President is concerned about the successful conclusion of military action in Iraq, so that the people of Iraq, who are right now, as you know Helen, they’re just now going back and unearthing a mass grave from the time of Saddam Hussein. They’re concerned about building a democracy that is free and stable. So the President is committed to that task and seeing it through.

Q You don’t do it was a barrel of a gun.

And today Your Daily Les is a two-parter: Lester wants balance.

Q There’s a news release on the Internet today from Exodus International, which is the organization of former homosexuals with 135 member groups. And they’re reporting that they are guests of the President today at the White House. And my question: You said there are no homosexual groups here today. Were any invited?

MR. SNOW: Not that I’m aware of, Lester. I don’t think so.

Les Reads First Draft

Q Second, The New York Times has just reported, “This White House, like all White Houses, is obsessed with the press.” My question, will you admit to this alleged obsession, or is this just one more New York Times exaggeration?

MR. SNOW: It’s more a love affair than an obsession, Lester.