It seems that Pony Blow is out campaigning for Republikkkans so we’re stuck with the mannequin-like Dana Peroxide intoday’s gaggle.
HoldenQ Dana, how does the bookkeeping work on days when Tony is out doing politics? Is he taking a vacation day today?
MS. PERINO: There are rules that govern that, that are handled by the ethics office. All of those rules are being followed. I don’t — since I am not in demand on the fundraising circuit, I don’t know really what they are.
Sounds likeChimpy got an ear full from Canada’s Stephen Harper over the kidnapping and torture of Maher Arar this morning.
And 10 minutes later, at 9:45 a.m., he spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Harper. The President spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Harper about a number of international issues, including the situation in Afghanistan and Sudan. Prime Minister Harper also expressed Canadian concerns about the case of Maher Arar, in light of the recently concluded commission of inquiry into this case. The President noted his appreciation for Harper calling him directly on this.
As always, obsession continues…
Mr. Elizabeth Taylor is now on the Ignore List.
Q What’s the reaction to this notion if Iraq does not become a, sort of, safer place in the next 60 to 90 days, that perhaps the government should consider a change in course?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know what Senator Warner meant by that. And I would point you back a little bit to the President’s speech on August 31st. That was a first in a series of speeches that he gave — that was in Salt Lake City to the American Legion — in which he said, this is a crucial moment. And he said that the American people are very patient, as long as the Iraqi government continues to make hard decisions and continues to make progress.
In addition to that, they continue to make progress by thinking about political solutions. And just this week it was Prime Minister Maliki who announced a four-point plan, the purpose of which is to bring together representatives of each party and the different religious and tribal leaders, in order to reach a political consensus so that they can move forward with a new government.
Q But I don’t think looking at Iraq this week and saying that there’s progress being made — certainly Senator Warner isn’t indicating that at all. Am what I’m hearing from Secretary Rice and perhaps some of your comments are the beginnings of a warning to the Iraqi government, and perhaps getting the American people — signaling to the American people that perhaps a change might be coming in the next 60 to 90 days?
MS. PERINO: I wouldn’t look at it that way. Secretary Rice — the purpose of her trip was to reiterate the support of the American people and to remind and help this young government to start making the tough decisions that they need to make and to help stand themselves up. The government is a little bit more than — just about five months old. And, yes, the American people are very patient; we are committed as a country to winning. We understand the stakes of victory and the consequences of defeat. But in terms of it being a warning, no, I would not consider it a warning.
60-90 Days — So Difficult to Understand
Q You’re saying you don’t quite understand what Senator Warner meant by that? It seems pretty clear —
MS. PERINO: No, I don’t know — I think your question was, what did he mean in terms of how would we be switching gears in 60 to 90 days. I don’t know what his suggestions were in terms of that, and if we get anything more on that, or if he makes any further public comments, we’ll take a look at them.
Q But you’re not considering any switch in gears?
MS. PERINO: We are continually looking at ways to adapt to the enemy and to stay ahead of them and to help this young government, continually trying to work how to be flexible. We have a pretty nimble strategy, and I think Caldwell talked about that this week. And things can change within 60 to 90 days, in terms of needs, in terms of different areas. For example, in some places we’ve been able to turn over security to the Iraqi forces, and in other places we had to beef up with some more American support.
I lovedSideways but I still drink Merlot.
Q If I could go back to the war for a second. [Sen. Warner’s] two-word summary of the situation in Iraq was “drifting sideways.” Would you agree with that assessment?
MS. PERINO: I haven’t spoken to the President about Senator Warner’s comments or his visit, and I know that the President would be anxious to hear from Senator Warner, and perhaps we’ll have something for you later if they are able to connect either by phone or in the coming days.
I think that the commanders on the ground continue to tell us that while it is very tough and it is hard, that if we continue to be nimble and flexible, that if we keep our commitment there, that we’ll be able to help this young democracy succeed. So until we have a little bit more, in terms of a conversation between the President and Senator Warner, I don’t know.
Q But you’re not rejecting that? I mean, that’s —
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to question what Senator Warner said that he saw or that he felt, no.
Q Obviously, he’s been a supporter of the war, he’s a very well-respected thinker. He’s been to Iraq many times. He goes to Iraq and he literally can’t get around the country. And his reaction (inaudible) — remarks is that things are drifting sideways and they’re not encouraging here. And it strikes me as the President ought to take a look and want to talk to the Senator. Has anyone from the White House been in contact with him to get a fuller explanation of what he’s talking about?
MS. PERINO: I don’t have an update in terms of the past few hours this morning, if someone had been in touch with him directly after his visit. I know that we have regular contact with Senator Warner. I don’t believe that in his comments that he lessened his commitment to his support of the war in Iraq, but he has said —
Q No, but he provided a pretty stark assessment of where he thinks things are going —
MS. PERINO: He did?
Q — and things that aren’t going well.
MS. PERINO: That’s right. And as soon as — if we have more to say, in terms of a conversation that we have with him, I’ll certainly provide that. I think we would — I was pointing back to you the things that I have mentioned that, it is very tough. Secretary Rice said yesterday, we need to have political solutions along with the military solutions so that we can help this young democracy fully stabilize and get the security situation under control.
Q To clarify two things that you’ve already addressed, does the President think John Warner is wrong on the phrase “sideways drift” in Iraq?
MS. PERINO: What I said was that I don’t believe that the President has spoken to Senator Warner —
Q That wasn’t my question. Senator Warner says that Iraq is in a “sideways drift.”
MS. PERINO: I don’t believe that the President thinks that way. I think that he believes that while it is tough going in Iraq, that slow progress is being made. We would like to see more progress; Secretary Rice was there yesterday prodding the new Iraqi government to make more political answers to some of the problems that they’re facing.
The President has not spoken to John Warner that I’m aware. I’m sure he would be interested in doing so. And if there’s more on that I can get back to you.
Gunowners should “understand the difference between right and wrong”. Sheesh.
Q Of course, the use –or some would say, abuse — of guns, is the one common thread in all of these recent incidents. So you’re indicating that — has the President’s thinking at all on gun control changed because of what’s happened in these incidents over the past few weeks?
MS. PERINO: Not that I’ve heard. I think that the purpose of this conference is to bring together the collective thinking of America, in terms of not only how we can help recognize violence and stop it before it happens, but to look at how we can make schools safer places to be, and also a good focus on how we can help communities heal, especially children heal.
Q And also, another question to ask, as a follow up, does this administration believe guns are playing a central part, more so than just a healing of the community in this [scool safety] conference? And this recent wave of shootings across the country —
MS. PERINO: Well, no doubt that American citizens who have a gun should abide by the laws and should understand the difference between right and wrong.
Finally, Dana Peroxide gets a full dose of Your Daily Les.
Q Yes, I have two questions. Since The New York Times reports this morning that radio station WHO in Des Moines has been running a commercial of Tony Snow promoting Nu-Vu, I’m wondering if you know of any recordings of Tony as a radio talk show host having difficulty getting non-evasive answers to his questions of White House Press Secretary?
MS. PERINO: I don’t even know if I understand the question, but I don’t — I think the answer is, no. (Laughter.)