Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today we learned that the president is planning a Camp David pow-wow on Iraq.

As the President announced in the Rose Garden this morning, there will be a session in Camp David on Monday and Tuesday involving Cabinet officials — in some cases some outside experts, as well as joining us by teleconference will be Generals Abizaid and Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad. Two-day working session looking forward in Iraq.

And I think that gets us up to date. Questions. David.

Q Could I just pick up on that last point? How does the President approach this working session, and specifically, does he think it’s time to meet with the Iraqi leadership for a reassessment on our security posture?

MR. SNOW: This meeting has actually been sort of in the planning stages for a while, and it’s been timed to coincide with the full development of an Iraqi government and cabinet. Now there will be discussions of security, absolutely. And we’ve already seen the United States responding to some of the expressed needs of the Maliki government, for instance taking some forces out of Kuwait and putting them in al-Anbar province.

So, this big meeting on security in Iraq – will it include anyone who knows what is going on there?

Q The President has said that any decision on U.S. troops in Iraq will be based on the recommendation of commanders. He’s going to have commanders at Camp David and be talking to them —

MR. SNOW: The commanders actually will not be at Camp David. They’ll still be in Iraq, but they’ll be joining us by teleconference.

Q All right, participating in the meeting. So will that be part of the discussion?

MR. SNOW: No. This is not — again, the facts on the ground, we know we have killed a terror leader, but we also know that there are many other people committed to preventing democracy from taking root. The death of Zarqawi does not change overnight the situation, but I think in the long run it can have ramifications, because it does send messages to the terrorists, and it does send messages to the Iraqi people that they can play a role, as well.

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From Holden:

What the hell is wrong with these reporters, obsessing on pulling Our Troops! out of Iraq?

Q Tony, can I come back to the Camp David meeting? I’m still a bit confused.

MR. SNOW: Yes, absolutely.

Q The President has said security needs of the new government is going to be one of the prime topics of discussion. You said it again.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q And no discussion of troop levels? Surely, there’s going to be some discussion of it, not necessarily a decision —

MR. SNOW: You guys are all — why are you so hellbent on saying, we’re going to get out tomorrow, or you know, make a good news headline?

[snip]

Q You just accused my good colleague over there of being hellbent to get troops out tomorrow, but I think there’s some polling evidence that suggests Americans are getting antsy to see some troop movements back —

MR. SNOW: I understand that —

Q What I’m asking is, how does the President view that? I mean, you say that — is he like that —

MR. SNOW: No, the President understands what the polls are, but he also understands what his obligations are as Commander-in-Chief. And if the polling data is contrary to the national security interests, guess what — national security interests win, period. That’s how he views it. And so you can look at the poll data — and we do, we’ve taken very cold and honest looks at the poll data — but the one thing as Commander-in-Chief, he is not going to fail in Iraq. He is not going to permit failure, and therefore, even if at times that may seem to fly in the face of public opinion, he knows his job as Commander-in-Chief of the United States is to carry out his constitutional obligations. And one of the things that is a strong point of this President is that he’ll do it, regardless of what the polls say.

Oh, so the president does pay attention to polls. He’s taken a “cold, honest” look at them, eh? But then he ignores the will of the American people, that’s what Pony Blow is telling us.

The Nazis made soap, Pony Blow sells it.

Q You’ve talked about the PR effect of this — you talked that it sends a signal and a message —

MR. SNOW: Let me — I want to be careful. This is not PR. PR is selling soap. This is trying to build a basis for democracy. I really wouldn’t want to dismiss what has happened — this was not a PR move. This was an important security move going after the guy who amounted to the top field general for terror in Iraq. Go ahead.

Q Okay, so when we’ve asked what the facts on the ground are, how this will affect the circumstances in Iraq, and your response has been, it sends an important signal.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q How does it affect the actual daily violence in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: We’re going to find out. As I said, I think at least part of the fear is that in the next few days there may be an attempt on the part of terrorists to say, look, we’re still strong, and to commit flashy acts of violence. That would be something that one might anticipate. But I don’t know. And I think it takes a sort of prescience that none of us in this room have.

Q But the President said this will turn the tide, he hopes this turns the tide for the Iraqi government.

MR. SNOW: Yes, of course.

Q So in what way?

And in Your Daily Les we learn that Kinsolving reads Rolling Stone.

Q All right. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has written an article in Rolling Stone which revisits the Ohio vote in 2004. Does the President believe Kennedy has raised any new evidence of voter fraud?

MR. SNOW: No, what I think he will do is let you, Lester, be his emissary from Rolling Stone. (Laughter.)

Q You’re a funny man.