Let’s Open WithThe Question Of The Day
Q Tony, I have a definitional question.
MR. SNOW: Oh, good.
Q Is it possible that some of what the colonists did might be construed by some as terrorism and insurgency?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know, you’ll have to ask them.
Pony Doesn’t Understand The Meaning Of “Political”
Q Given that, as you said, the Queen doesn’t play a political role in Great Britain, was there a particular reason why the President gave such a political speech?
MR. SNOW: The President — was it a political speech, or was it one, in fact, reflecting the closeness and the importance of principle?
Q It was a political speech. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: To you it was.
Q I think it was a political speech. It spoke a great deal about the war, the war on terror, the war in Iraq. The Queen’s speech reflected something that was not political. When you compare the two, and the tone of the two, one was political and one was not.
MR. SNOW: As a matter of fact, if you take a look — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven — eight paragraphs, there are nine paragraphs — I believe one referred to it, and there was nothing directly mentioning Iraq, although there was talk about democracy, liberty, defending liberty against tyranny and terror. It mentions killing the innocent to advance a hateful ideology, whether it’s in New York, London, Kabul or Baghdad.
You may call that political, but that is, in fact, a reflection of what’s going on the world.
Q You would say it’s not political.
MR. SNOW: No. No. I would say it is not political.
Americans Love This War!
Q Tony, back to the President’s poll numbers. I know the President says again and again he doesn’t govern by polls, and he doesn’t really think about them. And yet the polls keep continuing to go down or stay level, they don’t seem to rise at all. And he has made a determined effort to try to convince people, he’s given many speeches about the Iraq war policy, global war on terrorism, nothing changes. Is he concerned about that, and do you look at ways to try to bring back the will of the American people?
MR. SNOW: I think, as Americans — you know, what’s interesting is that, for instance, you take a look at some of the debate over the weekend, and you’ve got — there seems to be a mind-set sometimes among critics that they are not going to acknowledge changes on the ground. They quite often say, stay the course. Well, we do not have a stay the course policy. Or one in which they say, civil war, when the signals — or the metrics for a civil war fortunately have been going down, but you do have al Qaeda activity.
The question is, why do we not simply give the Baghdad security plan a chance to work? There have been some encouraging early signs that we certainly don’t want to oversell, but on the other hand, we don’t want to ignore. And General Petraeus is certainly going to be talking about these.
Q You don’t think they’ve seen that in the past? I mean, this war has ebbed and flowed, and there certainly has been some good news over the years, and yet, the President’s poll numbers are not improving.
MR. SNOW: I understand that, but the President also —
Q And you’ve tried to make a case over and over. He’s tried to make the case over and over.
MR. SNOW: Yes. Well, you know what? Ultimately, again, if — for instance, I would go back to the Zawahiri tape.
And what’s interesting is those who live by the polls better be careful, because if they try to get all their guidance simply from the poll questions, then all of a sudden it turns out that a lot of the things that have been stoutly opposed by some in the political class turn out to be things that have actually provided a basis for hope and success in Iraq — they’ll have to answer for that, too. Polling is not static, and neither are the issues.
Q Are you saying we want this war, the American people want this war?
MR. SNOW: No, the American people don’t want this war, but they —
Q Well, you say the will — they had the will?
MR. SNOW: Helen, the American people also do not want the Middle East in flames. They do not want millions of people dying. They do not want the economic dislocation, the geopolitical danger that would be ignited should, in fact, Zawahiri and others get their way. Americans still remember September 11th; they remember the fear it inspired —
Q But the Iraqis had nothing to do with it.
MR. SNOW: I understand that. But on the other hand, al Qaeda now has decided to make Iraq the central front. And it’s pretty clear —
Q We decided that.
MR. SNOW: No, I don’t think so. But —
MR. SNOW: We’ve gone through this many times.
No Confidence In Maliki
Q Can I follow up? By the time that General Petraeus comes back to the President at the end of the summer/early fall, and says, here’s where we are, can you say that the President feels confident after talking to the Prime Minister that there will be achievement to point to on the political side by that time?
MR. SNOW: Again, as The Washington Post pointed out this weekend, the Democratic Congress can’t even meet its benchmarks. So what you have is a situation where I don’t want to be prejudging what’s going to happen, but it is very clear that the Prime Minister, and I think others in the Iraqi political system, realize that they want to get things accomplished.
Q I understand all that. I just am asking you —
MR. SNOW: I know, but I’m not going to tell you.
Q You cannot say today that the President feels confident that those things are achievable by the fall? I just want to clarify.
MR. SNOW: Again, no, because you’re asking me a crystal ball question that I just think — I’m not going to bite.
Your Daily Les
Q At a press conference, Senate Majority Leader Reid, when asked about the Vice President’s announcement that he changed his position on Iraq three times in five months, responded, “I am not going to get into a name-calling match with someone who has a 9 percent approval rating.” And my question, what is the President’s reaction to this, and does he believe that the Vice President’s rating is really lower than the now Democrat-controlled Congress?
MR. SNOW: Again, I don’t think the President — President doesn’t have a comment on either of those formulations.