Sorry, had to bug out yesterday before the gaggle transcript was posted in order to take a cat to the vet. Severe anal gland infection, you don’t want to know.
Anywho, let’s kick offyesterday’s gaggle with our Dearest Helen.
Q Does the President think that the role of the Commander-in-Chief is so powerful that he can ignore the will of the people as manifested in the election and also in Congress?
MR. SNOW: Helen, if you can find somebody who says that they want us to fail in Iraq, then perhaps —
Q That’s not the question. I —
MR. SNOW: No, what you asked was a very vague question about the will of the people.
Q It’s not vague.
MR. SNOW: Yes, it is, because if you want to talk —
Q I want you to — do you think the power of a Commander-in-Chief is so all powerful that he can ignore the people?
MR. SNOW: The President never ignores the people. And that’s why it’s a tendentious assumption on your part that somehow the President runs roughshod over the will of the people. But he does have an obligation to keep the people safe —
Q — ignored —
MR. SNOW: No, he doesn’t — if you get a non-binding resolution, he certainly is not going to ignore it. But on the other hand, he’s going to do what it takes to keep you safe, and everybody in this room safe.
Q That’s not the question.
MR. SNOW: Oh, yes, it is. Au contraire, Helen.
Q It is, is he going to ignore —
MR. SNOW: I got to tell you, you’ve got to understand in this particular case, when the President is thinking about national security, he understands the importance of opinion. He shares people’s opinion that what’s going on is —
MR. SNOW: What do you think —
Q — responded to it?
MR. SNOW: He’s responded to it. He’s responded to it by laying out a new way forward —
MR. SNOW: Well, it will be interesting. Let’s see how the debate unfolds and let’s also see how facts on the ground unfold in Baghdad.
Chimpy Hand-Picked the Current and Former Chair of the Republican National Committee
Q You called the Pelosi plane issue a “silly story” this morning. Shortly thereafter the RNC put out a statement saying — calling it “Pelosi’s power trip” and that she’s “non-stop Nancy seeks flight of fancy.” Are you calling that —
MR. SNOW: Well, I’ll reiterate our position. The question — the RNC has put out a statement on Speaker Pelosi and travel arrangements, and I’ll just repeat our position, which is, as Speaker of the House, she is entitled to military transport, and that the arrangements, the proper arrangements are being made between the Sergeant of Arms office in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Department of Defense. We think it’s appropriate, and so, again, I think this is much ado about not a whole lot. It is important for the Speaker to have this kind of protection and travel. It was certainly appropriate for Speaker Hastert. So we trust that all sides will get this worked out.
Q So, Tony, is it inappropriate for the RNC then to make an issue out of this, and say — I mean, ridiculing her as “non-stop Nancy, flights of fancy”?
MR. SNOW: Jonathan, you know what my position is. I will let you draw whatever conclusions you may, but our position is pretty clear on this one.
Q Can I go back to the Pelosi issue? The Republican National Committee is putting out press releases. Is the RNC now beyond the President’s purview? If you think it’s a silly story, is there — they’re able to just operate if they want to attack like that on their own?
MR. SNOW: Well, apparently they did this time.
Q Just going back to the Pelosi story for a moment, just to clarify, is there no message coordination between you guys and the RNC?
MR. SNOW: There is from time to time, yes. But in this particular case, we’ve got a clear view.
Q Would it be correct to put it —
MR. SNOW: Would —
Q No, would it be — it just seems that you’re at such odds on this. Would it be correct to say that —
MR. SNOW: Well, why don’t you — why don’t you call the RNC and ask what the view is.
Q Oh, absolutely.
MR. SNOW: Okay.
Q But as the President’s spokesman, are you unhappy about this, disappointed that it’s come out this way?
MR. SNOW: I emote constantly about it, but I won’t share that. That’s private —
Q Pardon me?
MR. SNOW: I was being a smart aleck.
Morale At The Department Of
Fatherland Homeland Security Is No Worse Than Morale At The White House
Q The President is headed to DHS today, Secretary Chertoff on the Hill today and tomorrow, and the committee he will face tomorrow, the Chair of the committee describes the morale at the DHS as appalling and is very critical of cuts in first responder programs and budget increases for first responders, and security programs for aviation and mass transit that he considers totally inadequate.
MR. SNOW: Sorry, who is the source of this? Who is the source of the characterization?
Q Bennie Thompson.
MR. SNOW: Who does not work at the Department of Homeland Security.
Q But he’s homeland security chairman.
MR. SNOW: Yes, I know. He’s making a characterization. He’ll be able to ask Secretary Chertoff about that. Fact is, the people who work at the Department of Homeland Security have an enormously difficult task. They work at it. And I’m not going to characterize morale.
Q One follow up on that?
MR. SNOW: Well, first — yes, go ahead.
Q A recent OMB survey came out, ranked 36 federal agencies, and homeland security — the Department of Homeland Security came in 36th out of 36 on job satisfaction, 35th on leadership and management, 36th on results-oriented performance, and 33rd in talent management. Does that raise concerns about the ability of the Department of Homeland Security to protect homeland security?
MR. SNOW: I think the most important thing to do is constantly to work — every department and agency, Jonathan, worries about its effectiveness and constantly strives to improve. And that’s going to be true at DHS as well as anybody else.
Q You’re not concerned, the President’s not concerned?
MR. SNOW: Wendell, I didn’t raise it with him today.
Pony Blow Claims Women Are Not A Minority
Q Tony, somewhat going back to you opening with the minority — well, the Black History Month factoid, do you think in February 2007 that this country is hyper-sensitive when it comes to minorities to include — not just saying minorities in race, but minority in gender? Look at the Nancy Pelosi issue right now, do you think that this country is hypersensitive about that because of her gender?
MR. SNOW: I believe women are a majority in this country.
Q Yes, but who runs Washington?
You Can’t Polish A Turd, Pony. Beleive Me, I’ve Tried.
Q And also, the White House yesterday issued an open letter on climate change —
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q — and in it there is cited a National Academy of Science study, but it doesn’t include in it part of the National Academy of Science conclusion that the verdict is still out to the extent that natural greenhouse cycle contributes to climate change, versus the human generation —
MR. SNOW: Are you talking about the 2001 report?
Q Right. I’m talking about the reference in the open letter to the President’s speech, which doesn’t include — in fact, it doesn’t even include one sentence in the paragraph it is cited.
MR. SNOW: So you’re saying that we didn’t heavily footnote the President’s speech. I think if you go back and take a look at the status of science in 2001 — I’m sorry, that was a cheap shot, and I apologize. You go back and look at the state of science in 2001, both with the National Academy of Sciences and the IPCC, you find that there was considerably more uncertainty about the nature and causes. In fact, go back and look at the 2001 IPCC report, and you will find that human activity is seen as likely, as opposed to very likely in the more recent report, and the percentage of likelihood was considerably lower than it is today.
Q But my question is also in reference to what you said yesterday, which is that you said in 2001, the President said, human activity is a significant factor, when in fact, as you just said, the verdict was still out on that.
MR. SNOW: Yes, but what he did, it still said — here’s what it says: “The National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.” You’re right. He didn’t use the term significant. He used the term “in large part.”
Q Yes, but you also in that paragraph did not include what was in the President’s speech which, prior to the sentence he read — and this is what they’re referring to — an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2.
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q Yes, but this gives the impression that what you’re referring to is that it’s the actual increase of surface temperatures of the Earth that is in large part due to human activity, when in fact, in his own speech, that reference to increase —
MR. SNOW: No, Paula, you’re trying too hard. You’re trying too hard. If you look at the quote that we — here’s the President’s full quote: “There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat and thus warm the Earth because they prevent a significant portion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.”
It then goes on to say that the science is unsettled and it is less settled today in large part because we’ve ponied up the money and we’ve funded the scientific research to try to get at it. What the President was talking about back then and continues to talk about is putting money behind good science.
Q Thank you for putting that full paragraph into the record.
MR. SNOW: Yes, happy to do so.
Pony Blow Don’t Know!
Q Can I ask you about FEMA, specifically the idea of cutting 14 percent from FEMA’s budget? What is the administration’s thinking on that?
MR. SNOW: Look, I’m going to have to go back. Are we talking about 14 percent straight cut, or 14 percent against the baseline?
Q Well, it’s the $800,000 — I’m sorry $800 million.
MR. SNOW: Okay, I don’t know. Neither you nor I know enough about this one right now. Give me a call and I’ll get you an answer. I don’t have a good FEMA answer on me right now.
Your Daily Les
Q Okay. The Democrats, along with some Republicans in the Senate, apparently are planning to express their dissatisfaction with attempts to bring about victory in Iraq by opposing more U.S. troops being ordered there. And my question: What is the alternative if winning isn’t pursued and defeat isn’t acceptable?
MR. SNOW: You’re asking me — this is actually even more chin-pulling than the earlier inquiry in the sense that you’re asking me to respond to something that has not formally been proposed.