Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

Let’s open today’s gaggle with the traditional David Gregory/Pony Blow slap-fight.

Q On the evaluation in the report it says the following — the co-chairs say the following: “‘Stay the course’ is no longer viable. The current approach is not working. The situation is grave and deteriorating.” Chairman Hamilton says he is not sure whether the situation can be turned around. Can this report be seen as anything other than a rejection of this President’s handling of the war?

MR. SNOW: Absolutely. And I think you need to read the report —

Q I have.

MR. SNOW: You’ve read the whole report?

Q No, I’ve gone through a lot of the recommendations.

MR. SNOW: Okay, well, I read the whole report, and I will tell you, also based on the conversations —

Q But this is from the Chairman.

MR. SNOW: Well, if you listen to the Chairman you will have noted that he’s not trying to —

Q They were all quotes, Tony.

MR. SNOW: David, please. You get mad —

Q — report, I’m just saying those were all quotes.

MR. SNOW: I know. I know they’re all quotes. I’m now going to try to proceed to try to place them in context. Number one, they are not trying to score partisan points or to look back. The one thing this is, is they’re not doing look-back. The second thing is that they understand the difficulties. They have adopted the goals that the administration has laid out.


Q It’s kind of a totality question, though. How you can hear these things and not conclude that it’s rejection of the President’s policy?

MR. SNOW: Well, number one, “stay the course” is not the policy. And you know the President has been saying that for months.


But you need to understand that trying to frame it in a partisan way is actually at odds with what the Group, itself, says it wanted to do. And so you may try to do whatever you want in terms of rejection, that’s not the way they view it.

Q I just want to be clear. Are you suggesting that I’m trying to frame this in a partisan way?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q You are? Based on the fact that —

MR. SNOW: Because —

Q Wait a Holden, wait a second. Based on quoting the report and the Chairman, and I’m asking you a straight question, which you’re not answering straight, you’re actually —

MR. SNOW: No, I am —

Q — you’re trying to answer it by —

MR. SNOW: No, here’s the —

Q — nitpicking it.


Q You’re suggesting that by quoting the report, I’m trying to make a partisan argument?

MR. SNOW: Let me put it this way. Where in the report — what you have said is, can you read this as anything other than a repudiation of policy. And the answer is, I can. And what I was trying to do was to explain to you, for instance, when you suggested that “stay the course” was a repudiation of policy — not true. It’s not administration policy. When you talk about the fact that there’s a deteriorating situation, is that a repudiation of policy. No, it’s something that we have acknowledged.

Obsession continues…

Chimpy Still Believes In “Total Victory”

Q Just one more thing. The report, the bipartisan report says they’re not certain this can be turned around. Is the President certain the situation in Iraq can be turned around? MR. SNOW: The President feels confident for the following reason — and I understand — what the commission is doing is acknowledging the great difficulty of the task ahead. The President believes in the transformational power of liberty, and he talks about it a lot. [snip] Q Is that a yes? MR. SNOW: That is a yes.

I’d Love To “Directly Engage” My Size 12s With Pony Blow’s Ass

Q The report clearly advocates policies that are in opposition to administration policies. For instance, last week in Estonia the President said the only way to engage Iran is for Iran to verifiably suspend its enrichment program. And the report says you need to directly engage Iran. How do you square that?

MR. SNOW: Yes, I saw you ask that question before, and there are a couple of things. First, it’s not clear, and it will be interesting to look at whether the report advocates one-on-one talks with Iran; there is talk about developing a support group. But let me tell you what it does say about Iran. Jim Baker, when he was answering your question —

Q Tony, it says “directly engage.”

MR. SNOW: Yes, but “directly engage” — but then it also talks about in the context of the support group.

Q But how are we going to redefine under the — I think it says —

MR. SNOW: “Under the aegis of the support group.”

Q That’s right.

MR. SNOW: That’s different, I think, than one-on-one conversations, which is something that —

Q Sounds to me like the support group oversees it, and the U.S. directly engages.

MR. SNOW: Well, we’ll see. But I’m telling you that there may be a difference between one-on-one talks with Iran, which is something that we have ruled out.

Q And that remains ruled out?

MR. SNOW: Yes, unless Iran verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities.

Dead On Arrival

Q You’re saying that he’s going to weigh this whole report and there’s a lot of — and there’s many things in the report that he’s already said, no way, Jos , you know —

MR. SNOW: Like what?

Q Engaging Iran and Syria, for starters.

MR. SNOW: Well, no, it didn’t say — we have never said — what we’ve said is Iran and Syria know what they have to do to have direct diplomatic talks. That’s what we’ve said.

Q So he’s not going to change his mind on that?

MR. SNOW: Again, why don’t you — I think this needs — everybody go back and read this carefully. I think it requires some parsing and we need to parse it, too. I’m not going to give you an answer to that question today.

Q So there is a chance that he could change his mind?

MR. SNOW: I’m not going to give you an answer — the President believes that Iran has to change its behavior.


Q Tony, can I follow up an answer you gave Jim just quickly, because we’re dancing around this Iran question. I think you said —

MR. SNOW: We’ll probably continue to —

Q — there may be a difference between one-on-one and engagement with Iran. Can you clarify that a little bit? So the United States might engage with them along with other people?

MR. SNOW: No, no, I won’t. I’ll continue dancing around it for today, because I think it’s worth taking a look at exactly what this section was —

Q Well, what did you mean, exactly —

MR. SNOW: No, I’m just saying what it talks about —

Q — is the difference between one-on-one —

MR. SNOW: What it talks about here is an Iraq — under an aegis of an Iraq support group. And I just — I, frankly, want to see what our —

Q The United States should directly engage —

Q Exactly.

MR. SNOW: But it talks about in the aegis of a support group. And, therefore, just — like I say, give us time to parse it. I think it’s an interesting suggestion. We’re looking at it.

Q If the Iraqis hold a regional conference involving Iran and Syria, does that obviate the need for the United States to talk to Iran and Syria?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, I’m not going — I don’t want to draw any conclusions on these things. But let me put it this way: We think it’s welcome for the Iraqis, as a sovereign government, to do what they see fit.

It Goes In The Round File

Q It’s not an executive order, a piece of legislation, it’s non-binding. How does the President see this particular set of recommendations? How does he weigh its significance compared to, say, the NSC’s internal review, or what he will take a look at from the Pentagon?

MR. SNOW: Well, Suzanne, what he ends up doing is he makes decisions as Commander-in-Chief based on what he thinks makes the most sense.

Disagreement = Treason

Q I’ll spare you the tax question and defer that to your deputy, but leading up to the war, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft wrote a column basically warning about if there’s any preemptive strike or implementing a policy of preemption, that you have to have allied support much broader than your definition of coalition of the willing. And he also warned that if we were going in there and basically regarded as occupiers, rather than greeted as liberators, that there could be —

MR. SNOW: Conflagration?

Q Yes, thank you.

MR. SNOW: You’re welcome.

Q In the Middle East.

MR. SNOW: Well, thank you. Now, I’m aware of the column.

Q May I ask the question?

MR. SNOW: Okay, good, yes.

Q Why didn’t the administration seek Mr. Scowcroft’s advice, or at least listen to it, rather than dismiss it as disloyal to the President?

MR. SNOW: I’m not sure that’s what happened. It’s before my time and I’m not going to revisit a five-year-old argument. Instead, I think what’s most important to do at this point is what the commission says it wants to do, which is to work forward and build a sense of national unity.

When Ken Burns Does An Award-Winning Documentary On Iraq

Q How many more Iraqis have to die before this is considered a civil war, rather than a sectarian conflict?

MR. SNOW: Well, I think that’s a — is that how you define what’s a civil war?

Q I think Colin Powell considers this a civil war now —

MR. SNOW: I know Colin Powell has said it is, and a number of very thoughtful people have. And John Keegan, the foremost military historian in the world, says it’s not. I don’t think it’s helpful to get into trying to reduce it to one or two words. I think what it is useful to do is to figure out how to stem the bloodshed and make democracy a reality of life for the people of Iraq, because that’s what they want.

And Now, A Two-Fer Daily Les

Q Members of Congress, the Judiciary — have been sworn in with a Bible since our nation began, including Jewish members, even though they don’t subscribe to the New Testament. Now Congressman-elect Ellison of Minnesota has asked that he be sworn in with the Koran. And my question, the first of two: Does the President support this request, because he believes the Koran teaches nothing contrary to the freedoms in our Constitution? And if so, would he support the Book of Mormon being used to swear in LDS members of Congress if they ever ask for that?

MR. SNOW: That is an issue that the President does not need to adjudicate, and therefore, will not.


Q “According to the account in The Hill, Mr. Webb’s initial instinct about how to respond to the President was to slug him.” Were The New York Times and The Hill wrong to report this, because it never happened, or did it indeed happen?

MR. SNOW: We decided not to comment on that issue. What we had was —

Q That means it did happen.

MR. SNOW: No, it doesn’t, because what it’s talking about is a state of mind. There was no threat to slug the President, because I was standing that far from Jim Webb. But, beyond that, we are simply not going to comment. It was a reception to welcome new members of Congress; we congratulate all of them on their victories, and the rest of it we’re just not going to play on.

Q Do you think that Webb was courteous?

MR. SNOW: I’m just not playing, Les.

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

  1. No “look-backs”? He’s starting to sound like His Royal Sweatiness.

  2. Re: above comment.
    This false “bible/koran flap” is nothing but cheap race (religion) baiting against Congressman Ellison pure and simple, and it is disgusting.
    The world is disgusted with and sick to death of American racism and xenophobic ignorance. Stop it!

  3. “Q Members of Congress, the Judiciary — have been sworn in with a Bible since our nation began, including Jewish members, even though they don’t subscribe to the New Testament. Now Congressman-elect Ellison of Minnesota has asked that he be sworn in with the Koran.”
    Members have used the bible in the past for PHOTO-OP purposes only…
    Kill this red herring dead dead dead…
    JEEZ!!!! …sorry for yelling…ahhhhh!!!!!

  4. I’ve got a new plan and Holden–you’re the guy to implement it.
    David Gregory needs a blog.
    The man matches Helen for tenaciousness during Pressers. Boom Bam Slam! But then he slinks into the teevee studio and he’s quiet as a lamb.
    Obviously, if he had a blog, we’d all have more fun.
    So what do you say? How do we facilitate this?

  5. No fish were harmed in the making of this slap fight.”–Pony & David
    “Let the aegis soar.” Pony Asscroft

  6. a month, but the vice president keeps contradicting him. How could we ever be confused?

  7. the president has been saying for months that “stay the course” was not the policy?
    which president? on what planet?

  8. SNOW: I recognize the inquisitive tone in your voice, each of the words you have spoken, however, responding to you as though you had asked a question, would embolden the terrorists. Here, let me be smarmy and duplicitiopus instead.
    SNOW: Anyone else with que… er,… statements?

  9. Where’s Ari when you need him? Don’t you miss his oiliness? Snow is starting to look like a refugee from freeperland. lBring back his oiliness.

  10. One – does Mr. Snowjob ever allow a reporter to actually finish his question? And if the reporter never gets to ask the question, how does little Tony know what the question is that he’s trying to answer?
    Two – Mr. Snowjob sums up his position nicely: MR. SNOW: … The one thing this is, is they’re not doing look-back. The second thing is that they understand the difficulties. They have adopted the goals that the administration has laid out.
    No look back – is that the same thing as not having responsibility?
    They have adopted the goals that the administration has laid out – “Stay the Course?” No, we never said stay the course, etc. etc. etc.

  11. “Holden, I don’t know how you do it, day in and out.”
    I was thinking the same…I think it day in and day out. But thanks for doing it Holden

  12. “I’m just not playing, Les.”
    Right. This is all one big game to him, or he’d answer the fucking question – even those from Les.
    Spin, spin, let’s spin some more.
    Holden, I don’t know how you do it, day in and out.

Comments are closed.