Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

In today’s gaggle it looks like Pinocchio has ceased to be a puppet and become a real live boy.

Q President Bush is condemning Hezbollah.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq is condemning Israel.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Is this a sharp break with the President?

MR. SNOW: No, it’s an expression of opinion on the part of — the Prime Minister about his views.

Q Is the opinion troubling the President?

MR. SNOW: No. The President — you’ve got to understand that Prime Minister Maliki is running a unity government and he is going to express the opinions of that government. The President is conversant with those opinions, and he is — you know, he respects it and he looks forward to talking with Prime Minister Maliki about it when Prime Minister Maliki comes to Washington next week.

[snip]

Q This could be the most significant issue facing the President right now. It’s a heck of a thing to be disagreeing about, isn’t it?

MR. SNOW: No, because the primary point of emphasis in the relations between the United States and Iraq right now is guaranteeing the security of Baghdad, and also making sure that Iraqi democracy works, and works effectively.

That’s what they spend the bulk of their time working on, and that the Prime Minister would express a contrary view is hardly new. The President speaks quite often with people and works quite often with people who disagree with him.

Q Last question on this.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Is the administration at all concerned that the Prime Minister either has any ties with Hezbollah, himself, or his party has ties with Hezbollah?

MR. SNOW: No, I doubt it. I’m not aware of that, but, no, I don’t think so.

Next, Pony makes the startling claim that tax cuts for the rich help poor blacks.

Q NAACP — the President has been President for five years now, and he told them that he regretted the fact that many African Americans distrust the Republican Party. What has he done for five years to change that?

MR. SNOW: Well, for one thing, the President has done consistent outreach with African Americans. Look, this is a President, you take a look at his political career, what has George W. Bush done, he’s tried to do outreach. He understands that there was a history in which the Republican Party was seen as the active enemy of black voters in this country. It’s one of the reasons why you have such lopsided Democratic majorities.

[snip]

[H]e put together an economic program that’s designed to create jobs for Americans. You also aim tax breaks at those in the lower income levels…

[snip]

Q You just said that the majority of the President’s tax cuts have actually been geared towards lowering —

MR. SNOW: The President’s tax cuts, if you take a look at what the President has been doing — and this has been going on for a while here — is shifting the tax burden. And, as a matter of fact, if you take a look at it, again, the upper brackets are carrying more of the burden and he’s been reducing taxes. And you take it as a proportion of overall income, it is larger at the lower ends of the income scale.

And a nice follow-up.

Q And a follow-up. Bruce Gordon just gave the President a “B” for his speech. But he says at issue, really, is the follow-up. What’s next? What happens next?

MR. SNOW: Well, you’ll be hearing more. I mean, there will be some speeches —

Q Hearing or seeing?

Obsession continues, Read More…

From Holden:

Shorter Pony Blow: We have a “black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple.”

Q Yes. Does the President think that he can keep diverse points of view in his mind if his senior staff — that means, assistant to the President or the equivalent — are more than 80 percent men, all white, one Hispanic, four women, no blacks?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Why?

MR. SNOW: He talks to his Cabinet, which is more diverse than any —

Q He’s talking to Caucasian Americans.

MR. SNOW: Yes, and he’s also got Secretary Gutierrez, he has Secretary Rice — perhaps you’ve noticed. Look, I think it’s insulting to believe —

Q Jackson.

MR. SNOW: Thank you. Alphonso Jackson.

[snip]

Q If he’s proud of the diversity in his Cabinet, could you expect him to improve diversity amongst the White House staff?

MR. SNOW: What the President does is he looks for the best available people.

Q And they’re all white?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know, why don’t you tell me? (Laughter.) You can come aboard and do personnel. You want to?

Q I’m asking you a question.

MR. SNOW: I know you are, but it’s an argumentative question that also applied to other previous administrations. Would we like more blacks and Hispanics on? Yes, sure.

Q Any Asians?

MR. SNOW: Asians, too, yes, thank you.

Q Tony —

MR. SNOW: Let me leave no one behind. Every — just every group, raise your hand. We want you.

Traitors Are Thee, But Not Me

Q Can I ask you about Iraq? A Republican Congressman, Gil Gutknecht from Minnesota came back from a trip last week to Iraq, an official trip, and came back and said he believes the conditions on the ground are worse than the administration has been telling the public. And he’s also now calling for troops to start coming home. What’s the White House reaction to that?

MR. SNOW: The White House reaction is that, number one, we understand that there is a real attempt, especially in and around Baghdad, to create violence, create havoc, and weaken the government. And the response to that is not to run away, but to figure out how best to deal with the terror elements so that the Maliki government is going to be able to operate effectively.

And I guarantee you, that’s going to be one of the key things that the President and the Prime Minister talk about next week.

Q But when John Murtha and other Democrats called for troops to come home, Karl Rove and others have said that this is cutting and running. Here you have a Republican Congressman in a tight re-election. He’s saying troops should come home, and that the conditions on the ground are not as you’re saying.

MR. SNOW: Well, we also disagree with him.

Q Is he waving the white flag of surrender?

MR. SNOW: No. He’s expressing his opinion.

Finally, in Your Daily Les, Kinsolving unloads a zinger.

Q Tony, following up Connie’s first question. Yesterday in the East Room, where no questions were allowed, the President said — and this is a quote — “Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value. We all begin our lives as a small collection of cells.” My question: This means that the President believes that all miscarriages should have both death certificates and funerals, doesn’t it?

MR. SNOW: The question hasn’t come up. I know the parents grieve them, if that’s good enough for you, Lester.

Q This means also that the President believes that one’s actual age is determined not by birth date, but by estimated conception date, isn’t it?

MR. SNOW: No.