Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today Pony Blow explains why we hate peace.

Q To sort of follow on Jim’s point, when so many other world leaders and entities are saying we need a more immediate cease-fire, and the U.S. persists in this view that it must be sustainable, is it not then for people to infer that the U.S. views that crushing Hezbollah is more important than the short-term loss of civilian lives and civilian structures?

MR. SNOW: No. Again, I think what you’re posing is a false choice. If you can guarantee for us that Hezbollah somehow would stop rocketing, then maybe you’d have a point. But Hezbollah started this. You’ve got to keep in mind, the aggressor in this case is not Israel, it’s Hezbollah. Hezbollah crossed over into Israeli territory and kidnapped two soldiers. It has been rocketing Israel, but it has been ratcheting up in recent days. Nasrallah has made it pretty obvious that he considers a war against Israel, and as a consequence, I think a lot of people — look, we would like a cease-fire tomorrow, we would like a cease-fire immediately, but it has to be a cease-fire that is going to stand the test of time so that people in that region — and people in Lebanon in particular, a country that has been hard hit by occupying forces and by frustrations of its democratic aspirations, deserves a shot in having the freedom and democracy its people deserve. And the only way that’s going to be possible is if there is no longer an internal threat of the sort that we’ve witnessed in recent weeks.

Obsession continues, Read More…

From Holden:

So, is the president proud of all those shiny new Iraqi schools?

Q Since the President’s visit to Baghdad, the one secret trip, since then, has the President been satisfied with the progress on the ground?

MR. SNOW: Well, I think — I don’t want to characterize satisfied or dissatisfied. It is clear that there is — that there is work to do to secure Baghdad. And General Casey has made no secret of that, and other spokesmen in Baghdad have made no secret of that.


Q Does the President believe that Prime Minister Maliki’s plan for securing Baghdad has not worked or is not working?

MR. SNOW: Again, rather than characterizing — I know a lot of you guys want me to hand out report cards. In fact, Wendell tried to do it this morning; it’s the Fox angle today. I’m not doing report cards. I think — we realize that he’s got some real work ahead in securing Baghdad, and that needs to be done, and it needs to be done in a way that is going to provide stability in the city, so people can go about their daily affairs without the fear of terrorism.

Q So what will the talks center on between the President and —

MR. SNOW: I think you’ve got — I’m not sure that they’re going to “center” on anything. They’re going to cover a lot of ground.

Civil War? Ah, it’s just semantics.

Q Obviously, in the last couple of weeks, there’s been a U.N. report of a hundred people dying a day in Iraq, 6,000 in the last two months, the number of major attacks in Baghdad up 40 percent on a weekly basis. Does the administration think that Iraq is now in a civil war?

MR. SNOW: No. I don’t want to get — you’re talking about in and around Baghdad. I know the Prime Minister has a piece today where he talks about turning Muthana province over, and there are several other provinces that are going to be under Iraqi control they think relatively soon. You have — I think there’s an attempt, and it’s very alluring to politicians here to try to make the situation sound like civil war everywhere. No, there are parts of Iraq where life is proceeding with a fair degree of normalcy, where people are enjoying greater economic opportunity and they’re enjoying the fruits of democracy. You’ve got a problem in Baghdad, and that is — it’s absolutely critical to address that.

Q Yes, but it’s not the politicians here who are calling it a civil war, it’s politicians in Iraq. Iraqi politicians are saying —

MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not going to get into the labeling game. I think the most important — because I don’t know where you go with that, except you get a headline: “Administration says civil war.” And it deflects from the real purpose here, which is to figure out how to create civil peace, and that is really the prime objective of everybody in the United States, every American who is working in and on the issue of Iraq.


Q There is an independent British newspaper quoting a senior Iraqi official who claims that the experiment in the new government of Iraq has failed, and therefore we have to go to plan alpha to separate three different countries within Iraq. I would assume your comment would be ho-hum or negative, but it is an official statement, apparently, by —

MR. SNOW: An official statement by an unnamed person. That doesn’t qualify as an official statement, that qualifies as an anonymous quote to which I will not react.

Pony Blow eats [murdered] crow.

Q Tony, not to bring up last week’s news, but the issue of whether embryonic stem cell research is murder came up yesterday on “Meet The Press.” You said, I believe, last week that some people regard this as murder and the President is among them.

MR. SNOW: Yes, well, I —

Q Does he believe this is murder?

MR. SNOW: I overstepped my brief there, and so I created a little trouble for Josh Bolten in the interview. And I feel bad about it. I think there’s concern. The President has said that he believes that this is the destruction of human life.


The President certainly does not oppose stem cell research. But he does find — he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans. I will go ahead and apologize for having overstated — I guess, overstated the President’s position.


Q So the President does not regard this as murder?

MR. SNOW: He would not use that term.

Q And the corollary question that’s emerged on Capitol Hill and elsewhere is, if it is murder, do you then shut down in vitro fertilization clinics?

MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, they’re not the recipients of federal money. We’re talking about the use of federal money on things that are morally — that some people consider morally objectionable and some do not. It’s one of the reasons why, as you know, we’ve allowed states to make their own decisions. And a number of them have, in terms of assigning states resources for use in embryonic stem cell research.

Your Daily Les: Pony Blow Reaches His Limit

Q Yes, Tony, I have a two-part question on the same issue. You and the President have seen the massive media coverage of a male midshipman at the Naval Academy who for months faced the possibility of life imprisonment because a female midshipman charged that he raped her, which charge the court marshal found to be untrue, even though Midshipman Lamar Owens is still facing the possibility that Academy Superintendent Admiral Rempt may disregard the court marshal’s recommendation of no punishment.

And my question, the first — does the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, who, himself, was so maligned by Dan Rather, believe this male midshipman should be punished when court marshal testimony disclosed that the female mid, on the night she claimed rape —

MR. SNOW: All right, all right, all right. This has gone on way too long.

Q Can I finish?


Q Seven drinks in two hours.

MR. SNOW: This is purely silly. The Commander-in-Chief delegates authority to his commanders and he trusts them to do the right thing. And I’m not going to re-litigate that case from here.

Q No, but I just —

MR. SNOW: Period.

Q Could I ask my other one? Does he believe it wise or just to give immunity to a female midshipman who charges a male with rape, however false the court ruled the charge?

MR. SNOW: Boy, I am glad I asked for that one.

Q You want to evade that one, right?

MR. SNOW: I don’t want to answer it. This is purely — this is not a question to be posing to the President of the United States. It’s not only undignified —

Q But he’s the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.

MR. SNOW: He is the Commander-in-Chief and I would refer everything back to the Naval Academy, in which the President has full faith. Now, perhaps you don’t, Lester, so you can go over there and apply for the job.