Today on Holden’s Obsession with [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

From Holden:

My appologies, as Pony Blow held an unusually late gaggle yesterday and I clean forgot to check it out this morning.

Let’s open with Pony’s claim that Hamas, Hizbullah and Jamia Islamia reside in Iraq rather than Palestine, Lebanon and Pakistan.

Q But what about this central Democratic argument that the money spent on the Iraq war has taken away from homeland security and the war on terrorism?

MR. SNOW: Well, it’s an argument that seems to indicate the war on terror would not exist if we were not in Iraq. Let me remind everybody that the war — that terrorists spent years plotting September 11th. Hezbollah has been active as a terrorist organization for decades. Hamas has been on the terror watch list for many years. Jimiya Islamia [sic] and other groups have also been on the terror watch list for years. So the fact is that the Iraq war has become a central point as Prime Minister Maliki has pointed out and the President said, as well, because terrorists are trying to figure out if Western governments have the will — and also governments in the region have the will to stand up to isolated acts of terror that are designed to frighten and disrupt nations. The President said, no, it’s not going to happen in the case of the United States of America….

More below, click on.

From Holden:

Darn, if we could just capture or kill al Qaeda’s number three man.

Q Tony, isn’t one of the reasons the poll numbers look bad is because Americans hear the administration say again and again, we’ve captured or killed two-thirds of the known leadership of al Qaeda, we’ve got them on the run, and, yet, a plot like this is uncovered?

MR. SNOW: Well — no. I really am not going to sit here and do a seance about public opinion polls because I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows. I think it’s pretty — when you’re in a war like this, and especially with a vague and unseen enemy, you can understand that people are going to have anxiety. And one of the frustrations is you can’t show everybody the kinds of things that are going on each and every day. But the fact is, just because you’ve degraded a lot of al Qaeda doesn’t mean that you still don’t have people who are committed to killing Americans. And that is an important ingredient.

Pony the Logician.

Q Tony, former President Clinton told ABC News in an interview there this morning that, “While I don’t think the foiling of that London bomb plot has any bearing on our Iraq policy, they seem anxious to tie to al Qaeda. If that’s true, how come we’ve got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan? Why is the administration and congressional leadership consistently opposed to adequate checks on cargo containers in ports and airports? I think Republicans should be very careful in trying to play politics on the airport thing —

MR. SNOW: Can you hand me that quote when you’re done, because I think this one needs some parsing. So you hand that to me, and we will deconstruct, all right? (Laughter.) You have it marked up for me?

Q The bottom of the first —

MR. SNOW: Okay, “I don’t think the foiling of the London bomb plot has any bearing on our Iraq policy.” Fair enough. “They seem to be anxious to tie it to al Qaeda.” I think Bill Plante will tell you that’s not true.

Q Well, I don’t know that it’s not true. I only know what you told me. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Well, I’m telling you the truth. But the fact is, as a public matter, we haven’t done it, which leads to a series, therefore, of non sequiturs that are tied to a fallacious premise. The fact is that —

Q Oooh —

MR. SNOW: Well, it is. I’m sorry, but go take a logic class.

Q We’re in it. (Laughter.)

A key question, regarding Chimpy’s big meeting on Iraq yesterday.

Q Did the President hear from critics?

MR. SNOW: Yes, the President always does. And this is a point I’ve tried to make. These are not meetings where he comes in and gets cheerleaders. What he gets is smart people who look at issues at different angles and in different ways, because that’s the only way — just as he’s trying to get his people to think creatively, he needs to think creatively, too. The only way you do that is bringing in all different points of view so that you’re not simply looking at it from the standpoint of what policy papers may come your way. You need some new ways. And these have led to — meetings like this have led to conversations with folks who have not always been congenial with administration policy, but have extensive experience in whatever region or whatever topic matter may be under discussion. And it’s very useful for the President.

Q They don’t get Oval Office syndrome, pull their punches?

MR. SNOW: No, they really don’t. I mean, you’ve been around the President. The President knows how to make people relax. And that’s one of the things he does. He wants them to feel comfortable. And otherwise, it doesn’t work.

Really, they didn’t “pull their punches”? That’s not what the Times reported.

Although none of the academics openly criticized Bush administration policy, according to those in attendance, Mr. Davis did take issue with the administration’s order to remove Baath Party members from public service, and he urged the hiring of more qualified Baathists in Iraq or living abroad, and inviting retired army officers back into service.

“Nimble?” BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!.

Q George Will wrote this morning that the administration is so self-delusional that if it recognized that it needed to make — or it became necessary to make a change in tactics, that it would not recognize it, and that perhaps Senator Kerry had the right formula back in the last election year. Would you like to reply to that?

MR. SNOW: It’s the first time I think I’ve ever heard you cite George Will with approval. (Laughter.) No, look, the fact is, I’ve just talked to you about how nimble the administration is. One of the things you need in a time of war is a clear vision and a clear sense of determination. But one of the things the President has talked about at all junctures is being nimble in response to threats.

So George writes a wonderful column, a nice readable column — but this administration — I’m sorry, but the column doesn’t resemble the administration for which I work.

Pony loves him some Lieberman.

Q The President had avoided being involved in the Connecticut primary prior to voters going to the polls. You’ve avoided taking any position —

MR. SNOW: You noticed?

Q — and the Vice President today said that “The Dean Democrats have defeated Joe Lieberman. Their choice instead is a candidate whose explicit goal is to give up the fight against the terrorists in Iraq.” Why is the Vice President making such comments? And does he support Senator Lieberman’s independence?

MR. SNOW: No. Number one, we are not making any endorsement in Connecticut. The Republican Party of Connecticut has suggested that we not make an endorsement in that race, and so we’re not. We are certainly not going to be endorsing between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont because both of them are going to caucus as Democrats if they’re elected to the United States Senate.

But as we were talking about last week, Ned Lamont ran on a campaign of getting out of Iraq, period; getting out. You have to ask yourself at a time of choosing what this does in the war on terror, what the consequences of that are going to be. Does this help the people of Iraq or does it create a power vacuum? Does it, in fact, support Osama bin Laden’s comments — and I want to thank one of your colleagues for setting me right on this; it was after Mogadishu, when we left Mogadishu — that the Americans, you stay at them long enough, they’re going to lose their will, they’re going to walk away — and he used that as inspiration to persuade people to conduct the September 11th attacks.

So it is important to understand what the consequences of an idea are. And I think the Vice President was well within his rights, and I think correct, in making that analysis and assessment. But in terms of the race, the Connecticut Republican Party has asked us to stand down on it, so we will.

Q You don’t find that a little odd?

MR. SNOW: Nope.

Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: Well, there are times —

Q — I don’t recall it ever happening, when the White House has been asked to stay out of Republican race.

MR. SNOW: No, actually, there have been races in the past where candidates didn’t meet the expectations of the local parties and Presidents have stayed out, Democrats and Republicans, in the past.

Q I’d like to see a list.

MR. SNOW: You know what? Perfect. We’ll do the asterisk for you.

So far Pony has yet to provide the promised list of local Republican parties who have asked Chimpy not to endorse their candidate.