Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

I was quite surprised today when Pony Blow claimed that Condi’s little trip to Rome (which left her shedding tears of frustration) resulted in several “significant victories”.

Speaking of which, it’s probably worth opening at least a little bit, and then we’ll get to questions, with a little bit of perspective on what did and did not happen in Rome. I’ve seen a number of press accounts describing this as not going anywhere, and as a matter of fact, there were significant victories achieved in Rome.

Ed Chen of the LA Times was surprised as well.

Q I just want to follow up on you saying that Secretary Rice had significant victories in Rome. How can you say that when she came away with no cease-fire? And also —

MR. SNOW: Because —

Q — we’re hearing she’s going back probably within the next few days. So she — the job is not done.

MR. SNOW: Because, Ed, you’re laboring under the presumption that she was supposed to come with a magic wand and say a cease-fire. What she has said is, what on earth is the good of having another empty-handed cease-fire in the Middle East? What is the purpose of having something that is not enforceable at this juncture and is not realistic? The purpose —

Q It was —

MR. SNOW: No, because — I want to push back a little bit, because the presumption was, it wasn’t success unless you had a cease-fire.

Then Chen struck at the hypocritical heart of the Assministration’s position on a cease-fire in Lebanon.

Q Yes, but you just said a moment ago that it would be — it would not be an enforceable cease-fire. How do you know until you have a cease-fire? Why not get a cease-fire, and then if Hezbollah does not follow it, the world community sees that they’re to blame.

MR. SNOW: In other words, why not — because we are — because what you’re asking for is a PR move rather than a strategic move. The question of why not —

Q Why would it be PR if people are not dying?

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, wrong. Again, Hezbollah is firing, what, 150, 200 rockets a day. Do you seriously believe they’re going to stop if somebody in Rome says there’s going to be a cease-fire?

Q Nobody knows until you do it, right?

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, don’t play “what if.” That is naive, Ed, it’s naive.

Q You’re playing “what if” by saying it’s not enforceable. You don’t know that. Nobody knows that.

MR. SNOW: Yes, we do. Yes, we do. Yes, we do.

Q Well, then, if it’s not enforceable, at that point, the whole world will see Hezbollah is not playing by the same —

MR. SNOW: How many times do peace efforts have to fail? Do you really — apparently, what you’re saying is it didn’t make us happy because we expected a cease-fire. What Secretary Rice went for was to get people to roll up their sleeves and take a realistic look at the region. And that’s important.

Obsession continues, Read More…

From Holden:

There’s nothign quite like pissing off your only remaining ally.

Q Can you comment on the concerns expressed by Britain’s foreign secretary about how munitions were transferred from the U.S. to Israel using British territory? They are a close ally, they seem very unhappy about how that was done, and —

MR. SNOW: Well, apparently, Kelly, in talking to the Department of Defense — and you can get a fuller brief on it — they think their paperwork — this is a paperwork question — and apparently the British Foreign Minister thinks the paperwork was not in order, the Department of Defense does. And we’ll get it straightened out.

Q But it speaks to something larger than paperwork, although at the root it may be simply that, that one of our closest allies is feeling very uncomfortable about munitions going to an area that they —

MR. SNOW: I’m actually not sure that’s the case. I think you would have to ask the Brits about that. That’s a characterization, and I’d see how you would draw it. I’m not sure that’s the case, because these sorts of things have happened before, and probably are going to happen again. So I would be careful not to read too much into it, but, obviously — we’re going to have Prime Minister Blair here, we’ll find out what’s going on. But I will try to — I really would recommend taking — contacting the Department of Defense, because they’ve got sort of chapter and verse about the paperwork issues.

Q Would the President consider a moratorium on sending any new munitions to Israel, given the fact that Secretary Rice and others are saying there is an urgent need to end the violence?

MR. SNOW: There is an urgent need to end the violence. There is also an urgent need for Israel to defend itself. We will continue to abide by our treaty obligations.

The hypocrisy of the Indian nuclear deal.

Q My question is, does the administration see any ambiguity in our helping to escalate nuclear know-how in the sub-continent, India, and enrichment of plutonium by Pakistan, and trying to tamp down the North Koreans and Iran?

MR. SNOW: Well, we’re pursuing two different things here, and it’s a very good question, because I can see how people would draw the conclusion. What we’re talking about with India is a civil nuclear program.

Of course Pony is lying again.

The approval vote was 359-68 after lawmakers rejected amendments that aimed to put limits on India’s nuclear weapons program and were proposed by critics concerned the deal would harm nonproliferation goals.


Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, head of a bipartisan nonproliferation task force, lambasted the deal as pouring “nuclear fuel on the fire of an India-Pakistan nuclear arms race” because it would allow New Delhi to expand its nuclear weapons production to upward of 50 bombs a year from seven.

During several hours of debate, the House, led by President George W. Bush’s Republican Party, soundly rejected an amendment that would have forced India to halt fissile material production as a condition of the nuclear deal.

The House also rejected an amendment that would forbid India from capitalizing on a new ability to buy U.S. nuclear fuel by diverting all its domestically produced uranium for weapons use. India now uses half of its domestic uranium for energy production and half for weapons, lawmakers said.

Later, Pony manages to insult Raghubir Goyal.

MR. SNOW: Let me — let me — go ahead, Goyal. You’ve got a dog in this one. Go ahead. (Laughter.) I shouldn’t say that. (Laughter.) That is an American colloquialism. Please forgive any international — no, I’m not going there. (Laughter.)

Then Pony tells a whopper about the Assministration’s civl rights record.

Q On the Voting Rights Act, the President said he would vigorously enforce the law. Would this be a change of course? Because some of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus said afterwards that they feel that the administration has not done a great job of enforcing certain sections —

MR. SNOW: No, it’s not a change of course, it’s the President’s job.

Q They cited the Georgia voter ID law as there —

MR. SNOW: I know, and there will be disagreements about whether they think things are being enforced properly. But it’s — look, it’s the President’s job as the head of executive branch to see that the laws are faithfully executed, and he’ll continue to do it.

Q He’ll be enforcing it in the same way that the administration — [One wonders if this question was leading to signing statements.]

MR. SNOW: You know, it seems to me that you’re asking — you’re trying to get me into a question of people’s varying judgments on this. What I would do is change it and say, look and see, and if there are problems that people see in enforcement, let’s hear about them, and we’ll address those in due course.

Kinsolving on PR Props in Your Daily Les.

Q Before you were talking about PR props in strategic moves. And the President today is going to NAM, the National Association of Manufacturers. I mean, is this just another PR prop? Because frankly, the polls show voters don’t take him seriously as someone who is fiscally conservative, and they don’t take him seriously because Republicans in Congress are fiscally conservative. What’s he going to say today that we haven’t already heard?

MR. SNOW: Boy that’s — and am I still beating my wife, correct? (Laughter.) I mean, what you said is nobody trusts him, everybody hates him, what’s he going to do? (Laughter.)

Q He could go even once —

MR. SNOW: Exactly. (Laughter.)

Q But you never did beat your wife.