Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

As you can imagine, today’s gaggle was dominated with questions about the Foley scandal and how it was handled by the House leadership.

Suddenly Pony Supports The Separation of Powers

Q The President has a big stake in the outcome of the election in five weeks. Is he satisfied with the way that the leadership of Congress is dealing with this?

MR. SNOW: Holden are a couple of things. Number one, I don’t think you should hold every member of Congress responsible for what happened in the case of Mark Foley. But again, we’re just not getting into speculating on it. As far as the election, come election day the question is whether people are going to be voting on the basis of disgusting IMs between a grown man and a young man, or something that’s probably more important to everybody, which is safety, security and prosperity.


Q Well, what about the question about whether or not the President thinks that this issue has been handled properly?

MR. SNOW: Again, we’re not getting into telling the House how to do its business. The most important thing to do right now, from our standpoint, is to talk about the important issues, and that’s what the President is doing.

Q The President, he’s the leader of the Republican Party —

MR. SNOW: I believe you were there for the briefing on separate but co-equal branches of government. The President understands —

Q I don’t —

MR. SNOW: Well, it was sixth grade, maybe you skipped that day.

Obsession continues…

Careful You Don’t Get None Of That Hastert Stench On You, Chimpy

Q Tony, has the President talked to Speaker Hastert since this whole thing started?


Q Has he asked to talk with him?

MR. SNOW: No. No.

Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: Just hasn’t.

Q He’s not curious about his explanation or how he’s handled it so far?

MR. SNOW: No. You’ve got to understand, again, in separate and co-equal branches of government, everybody here wants the President to come in and tell the House how to do its business.


Q Just to go back, a couple of things on the Foley matter to clarify. You were asked if he’d spoken to Hastert. Has he spoken to any of the leadership about this?


Q Is this a separation of powers issue, Tony, or is this a determined effort to insulate the White House from this whole thing?

MR. SNOW: No, I don’t think — look, this is an issue that everybody cares about, but it’s also an issue that — the House has to figure out what happened; the House is the proper place for investigating the behavior of its members, although the Justice Department does now have an investigation ongoing.

Quacks Like A Duck

Q Back for a minute on the Mark Foley matter. The President has supported Speaker Hastert’s call for an investigation and has said the facts need to come out. Just to be clear, does the President also believe that the conduct of House leaders and how they handled these allegations —

MR. SNOW: David tried to sort of pick at that thread —

Q — pardon me, I came in a little bit late, so I didn’t hear David —

MR. SNOW: Okay, you missed my disclaimer that I’d be politely but —

Q That you were ducking.

MR. SNOW: yes — but I didn’t —

Q “Dodge” is the word.

MR. SNOW: Did I use “dodge” or “duck”?

Q You used “dodge.”

MR. SNOW: It was “dodge.” Okay. Because I’m just not going to get in the business of evaluating what the House has done, and nor is the President.

Don’t Judge Hastert Wihtout Knowing All The Facts As I Have

Q Can I just follow on one point, Tony? It strikes me that you’re trying to have something here both ways. The President does not believe that Speaker Hastert should resign, this is his position. Is that to say that he is satisfied with the conduct of Speaker Hastert and other Republican leaders on this matter?

MR. SNOW: I understand the question, but I’m just not — as I said at the outset, I’m not going to get into discussing, evaluating, reviewing, rehearsing what members of the House have done.

Q But in making the judgment that he shouldn’t resign, you’re not saying the President is making a judgment?

MR. SNOW: No. I’m just saying he’s supporting the —

Q How do you explain that?

MR. SNOW: — he’s saying at this point that the Speaker should not resign.

Q We should not take from that — that view that he should not resign — that the President is satisfied with his conduct in this matter?

MR. SNOW: I’m just saying — I know it’s maddening, and I apologize, but we’re just —

Q That’s a straightforward question.

MR. SNOW: No, it is a straightforward question and I’m given you — going back to the caveat I issued at the top. As interesting and as inviting as it may be for us to try to stand and render judgment on the House’s pursuance of this issue, I’m just not going to do it; including talking about whether we support or defend — the President, again, has said that he supports the Speaker and doesn’t think he should resign.


Q Tony, can you try to explain or clarify, why is the White House supporting Hastert in staying in the speakership job when you don’t have all the facts? You’ve been saying over and over, we don’t have all the facts. So why are you supporting his staying in the job —

MR. SNOW: Well, based on what we know — again, if you have a situation where you say support or don’t support, in absence of full information, we’re sticking with what we’ve got.

Q Well, why not say, we don’t know — we don’t know whether or not he should stay in that leadership role because we don’t have all the facts?

MR. SNOW: Because we don’t think that Denny Hastert is the kind of guy who says, man, that’s great stuff, I’m really glad Foley was doing that on the sly. We think that everybody who is — that decent people were just absolutely sickened by this and we hope that people are going to work together on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans, to fix it.

Q So you are saying that you believe that Hastert has handled the situation appropriately?

MR. SNOW: As I told you — I knew this would happen and I’m going to be firm, consistent, and non-responsive.

Lawyer Up!

Q But, Tony, how would the world change for this White House if the Democrats were to take control of a chamber or two on the Hill? And is the White House doing anything staffing or strategy-wise in preparation for that possibility?

MR. SNOW: The answer to the first is chin-pulling, hypothetical. The answer to the second is, no.

Q There have been reports that there has been staffing up on attorneys preparing to defend against possible investigations. Is that not true?

MR. SNOW: Not true, at least not true in my experience, I don’t think so. No.

Comma Coma – watch for Helen’s zinger at the end.

Q Not to change the subject, but I want to pick up on two headlines.

MR. SNOW: Okay.

Q What did our envoy mean when he said that a nuclear-armed North Korea is unacceptable, and what did the President mean the Iraqi war is only a comma?

MR. SNOW: Okay. Thank you for both of those. First, the position has always been that you can’t have a nuclear Korean Peninsula. That has been the reason for the six-party talks. And the President and our diplomats continue consulting because it’s important that North Korea not develop and try to deploy nuclear weapons. That’s enormously important.


As for the comma. This has been brewed around; Peter had a word or two to say about it today. The comma refers to the period of time between last year’s election and today. We’re talking about — well, the President is making the point is, when you look at a history book, a 10-month period is a comma. Now, some people have tried to say, how dare the President refer to this as a comma; he’s being glib about the deaths of Americans. That’s outrageous, and the people who say that know it. What they’re trying to is, willingly or not, wrench a statement out of context and try to use that as an opportunity to accuse a President who is deeply aware of the human cost of war of being calloused about those costs. It’s just not true.

And I’ve talked to him about this a number of times. It was simply — what he means is that in the grand sweep of history, 10 months is not an epic. Now, there is — if there is a chasm in here it has to do with what the President said and the way it’s been twisted by people who know what the context was.

Q The war is three-and-a-half years old.

MR. SNOW: I know, but notice that “comma” reference was simply referring to the time since — what he really is referring to is the short lifetime so far of the government. Everybody trying to say, ah-ha, and trying to draw conclusions, is it working, isn’t it working; do you have confidence in the Prime Minister, do you not? It’s 10 months old. It’s a government that is still in its infancy and trying to deal with a host of complex and very important issues. So when you take it in the broad sweep of history, and as we look back — you and I probably — well, you may, centuries from now, but I don’t think I’m going to last as long as you will, Helen — but the facts is —

Q Tough. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Yes, probably. But if you look in the broad sweep of history, that will be seen as a comma. That small beginning of a new government — that’s what he’s referring to. He’s not talking about the war as a comma.

And Now, Your Daily Les

Q Tony, in the President’s undeniable hope that his Republican Party will not lose its majorities in Congress, does he believe that Senator George Allen has been treated fairly by 30 news stories which discuss “macaca,” plus 10 editorials and 4 Style Section features that did the same thing in The Washington Post?

MR. SNOW: The President not only does not do book reviews, he doesn’t do newspaper reviews.

7 thoughts on “Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

  1. “come election day the question is whether people are going to be voting on the basis of disgusting IMs between a grown man and a young man, or something that’s probably more important to everybody”
    The way our representatives treat those in their charge isn’t important?
    – – – – — — — ” I believe you were there for the briefing on separate but co-equal branches of government”
    You know, this condescention used to hide the hypocrisy of 6 years of Bush’s intrusion into separation of powers is really quite too much.

  2. The downside of the unitary executive theory is that you end up being unitary with unsavory characters like Foley and Hastert. Enjoy the ride, Mein Fuehrer!

  3. MR. SNOW: I believe you were there for the briefing on separate but co-equal branches of government. The President understands — […] MR. SNOW: Well, it was sixth grade, maybe you skipped that day.
    Apparently ush skipped that day, too, as did most of the administration and the right wing pundits.

  4. Ten months is a comma in the history books?
    OK, the history of the three and a half years (that is, four commas) of the US’s intervention in Iraq:
    Invasion and toppling of Saddam, incompetent management of reconstruction, insurgency, civil war, total fucking disaster!

  5. That’s what I’m hoping. I mean, implying they don’t know anything about civics. Jeeze. Just because they have, up till now, failed to do their part, doesn’t mean they don’t know how it is SUPPOSED to work.

  6. Very last sentence: replace “book reviews” with just “books” and replace “newspaper reviews” with just “newspapers”

  7. Hmm…methinks that Snow’s getting snotty with the press corps is not going to pay off for him in the long run.

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