Ending a week away from thegaggle, it’s nice to see the normally subservient press corps making Pony Blow squirm as the Assministration endeavors to back-track on Iraq.
After years of loudly claiming that setting a timetable for progress in Iraq would be a “recipe for disaster” and only serve to “embolden the terrorists” (seehere, here, andhere for example) Pony sez timetables are just peachy, and they have loved them all along.
Q The Times story reported that top generals and Ambassador Khalilzad were crafting a timetable of sorts for disarming militia. Do you dispute the story —
MR. SNOW: No, the Iraqis themselves have set a timetable for trying to disarm the militia. They want to do so by the end of the year.
Q That’s not what the Times is reporting —
MR. SNOW: I know. What the Times was reporting I think reflects the ongoing efforts of the joint committee. But the United States has not said, this is a date.
Q There’s no crafting of a timetable going on right now among top generals?
MR. SNOW: I am sure that there is a crafting of timetables going on, drafting of goals —
Q To disarm the militia?
MR. SNOW: To work toward disarming the militia. That is something —
Q Can you give us a sense of what that might be?
MR. SNOW: No.
Q Why not?
MR. SNOW: Holden among other things, I don’t know what it is, if there is such a thing. And secondly, that is a topic of cooperation between the two sides.
Q You talk about them setting up benchmarks, and you’re telling us there’s nothing new here with these markers.
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q Have they met all the benchmarks? Or have they missed benchmarks?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Q And I’m assuming they missed some benchmarks, which is, perhaps, why the President, the other day in the interview with George Stephanopoulos, said he wouldn’t take any dawdling. Now, you keep saying the Iraqi government is doing a fine job, saying the right things, going forward. The President said he wouldn’t stand for any dawdling. Where does that come from?
MR. SNOW: I think you can — the two statements are reconcilable. Look, I don’t want to say whether they did or didn’t make benchmarks because I don’t know. But it would be reasonable to assume that there are things that don’t work out as planned and, therefore, what you do is adjust.
Obsession continues, click on.
“Stay the Course” Leades to Cliche Remorse
Q Is there a change in the administration “stay the course” policy? Bartlett this morning said that wasn’t ever the policy.
MR. SNOW: No, the policy — because the idea of “stay the course” is you’ve done one thing, you kick back and wait for it. And this has always been a dynamic policy that is aimed at moving forward at all times on a number of fronts. And that would include the international diplomatic front. After all, the Iraq compact is something we worked out with the Iraqis before visiting the Prime Minister in Baghdad earlier this year.
So what you have is not “stay the course,” but, in fact, a study in constant motion by the administration and by the Iraqi government, and, frankly, also by the enemy, because there are constant shifts, and you constantly have to adjust to what the other side is doing.
Q Tony, it seems what you have is not “stay the course.” Has anybody told the President he should stop calling it “stay the course” then?
MR. SNOW: I don’t think he’s used that term in a while.
Q Oh, yes, he has, repeatedly.
MR. SNOW: When?
Q Well, in August, because I wrote a story saying he didn’t use it and I was quite sternly corrected.
MR. SNOW: No, he stopped using it.
Q Why would he stop using it?
MR. SNOW: Because it left the wrong impression about what was going on. And it allowed critics to say, well, here’s an administration that’s just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is, when, in fact, it’s just the opposite. The President is determined not to leave Iraq short of victory, but he also understands that it’s important to capture the dynamism of the efforts that have been ongoing to try to make Iraq more secure, and therefore, enhance the clarification — or the greater precision.
Q Is the President responsible for the fact people think it’s stay the course since he’s, in fact, described it that way himself?
MR. SNOW: No.
Not “Stay the Course”, “Follow the Course”!
Q With almost every recent poll showing at least 60 percent of the American people now no longer support the effort in Iraq, what does the President say to those who will walk into a voting booth two weeks from now and say, this is my chance to vote against the war in Iraq? Should people use their vote to vote against the —
MR. SNOW: I’m not going to tell people how they should use their vote, but here’s something to keep in mind. In a war on terror, is it wiser tofollow a course that is devoted to victory, even though it’s difficult, or one that says, let’s not worry about whether we’re winning, let’s just leave? Those are two of the options that have been presented to voters.
Your Daily Les
Q All right. The Cincinnati Enquirer quotes John McClelland, the spokesman of the Republican Party of Ohio, as saying that Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland, the candidate for Governor of Ohio, should have known that a man arrested for exposing himself to children was on his congressional payroll, and with whom Strickland took a vacation in Italy in 1998 while leaving his wife Frances at home. Does the President believe it was wrong for this Republican state spokesman to bring up what most of the national media is refusing to report, even as they so repeatedly report the case of Congressman Foley?
MR. SNOW: I’m just going to refer that one back to the Ohio Republican Party.