Pony Blow Don’t Know!

Dana Milbank swipes one of my seminal Gaggle observations (see here and here). Goddman librul media.

When will President Bush roll out his new Iraq policy? “We do not know,” Snow said at yesterday’s White House briefing.

When did Bush decide to postpone the speech? “I don’t know exactly when,” the president’s press secretary said again.

Has everyone working on the policy read the Iraq Study Group report? “I don’t know,” came the refrain. “I’m assuming — but I don’t know.”

After Snow spoke multiple times of the “urgency” surrounding Iraq, CNN’s Elaine Quijano asked him, innocently, “Tony, what does ‘urgency’ mean?”

“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “You guys keep using the term.”

Quijano pointed out that Snow himself had used it, forcing Snow finally to spill the beans. ” ‘Urgency’ means that you want it done as quickly as possible, and you want it done right,” he proffered.


When Snow took over as White House press secretary earlier this year, reporters found it refreshing that he was willing to admit when he didn’t know something. This has become rather less refreshing as Snow, while claiming access to Bush’s sanctum sanctorum, continues to use the phrase — more than 400 times so far in televised briefings and interviews. Sometimes, it seems more of a tic than a response; usually, it’s a brushoff.

Why so many ‘dunnos’? “Because I don’t know all,” Snow explained, knowingly.

On Monday, reporters wanted to know whether newly confirmed Defense Secretary Robert Gates would attend White House meetings on Iraq policy. “I don’t know,” said Snow. Would the Iraq experts visiting the White House talk about the Iraq Study Group’s particulars with Bush? “I don’t know.” Was there anything in the report that the administration hadn’t already considered? “I don’t know. Again, good question. I don’t know. I mean, there are some — again, I don’t know.”

In recent days, the “I don’t know” reply has greeted queries about whether the administration would talk to Iran and Syria, Pakistan’s plans for Kashmir, benchmarks for reducing violence in Iraq, the process of preparing the federal budget, when Bush might name a new U.N. ambassador, and whether the president would address the nation about Iraq. Even the seemingly obvious — whether Bush would be outlining “a different course in Iraq” — stumped Snow. “I just — I don’t know,” he said.

The causes of Snow’s befuddlement have been large and small. What type of sculpture did Vladimir Putin give Condoleezza Rice? “I don’t know.” What books is Bush reading? “I don’t know which they are.” Will Bush send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq? “I don’t know.”

One thought on “Pony Blow Don’t Know!

  1. What would be cool is to create an Excel spreadsheet, input the Snow Gaggle date along with the count of Dunnos on that Gaggle.
    With this data, we can plot out the data to see whether he is still trending upward, or whether he is approaching his asymptote.
    Other factoids could include the number of Dunnos per Gaggle, where we could determine what his quota is.
    If this were published on the web, and kept up to date, maybe the press might notice and also notice that it is the meaty questions that cause the Dunno response. They might even try to see if they can spike the charts by deliberately asking the tough questions.
    Damn, if I would do this if I weren’t so busy.

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