Today We Learned About Dick Cheney’s Extra-Sensory Perception
Q The Vice President said in a question-and-answer on the record today, on the airplane, I guess, that he sensed a greater urgency in the Iraqi government than he had sensed before. We’ve been led to believe that they were pretty urgent about going forward for a long time.
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q What does that statement say to you?
MR. SNOW: It says to me that they continue to think that there’s a sense of urgency and they’re redoubling their efforts.
Q But he didn’t seem to get any real commitments on the part of the Iraqis. I mean, to say you get a greater sense of urgency at this time, months and months after we’ve been told by the President and others that they were committed to moving fast —
MR. SNOW: What the Vice President said is he’s not going to tell you what were in those private conversations. He said that the reason they’re private is that they are confidential. He did not say that he didn’t see a difference. He simply wasn’t going to read them out, anymore than he was going to read out his personal conversations with his meetings with heads of state elsewhere.
Q But do you think he’s gotten commitments on not taking a vacation? I mean, why wouldn’t he read that out? I mean, it seems like it’s not there. He essentially said it’s not there.
MR. SNOW: Well, no. I just — no, he didn’t say that.
The Schizo Assministration
Q Tony, we have Vice President Cheney issuing a stern warning to the Iranians from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Today the Iranian President responds by threatening severe retaliation if the U.S. attacks it. We also have both the U.S. and the Iranians saying they are willing to talk to each other in Baghdad. How can you explain the contradictory, if not schizophrenic, state of U.S. diplomacy with regard to Iran?
MR. SNOW: Schizophrenic?
Q Certainly contradictory.
MR. SNOW: No, I don’t think so. For one thing, what the Vice President — the Vice President did not threaten to attack another country. So what you’re doing is you’re getting a reaction to a threat that was not made on the part of the Iraqi [sic] government.
Number two, U.S. policy has always been the same, which is to use the diplomatic pressure available to you to encourage good behavior on the part of the Iranians.
Q But what’s the use of ratcheting up the temperature in the Gulf with that kind of symbolic threat, or warning, at least, of the — when you want their cooperation in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: No, I don’t think — again, you read it as ratcheting it up. The Vice President was pointing out that under international law, you do, in fact, have the right of freedom of movement.
The Surge Is Working!
Q In the first 11 days of May, 234 bodies have been dumped around Baghdad, most likely by death squads. And in the first 11 days of April, 137 bodies were dumped around Baghdad, most likely by death squads. One of the key goals of the surge was to reduce the activity of death squads. It seems to be going in the opposite direction. What is the concern?
MR. SNOW: Well, there is always a concern about it. We have made that clear. On the other hand, the longer-term trends, if you take a look at the sectarian violence benchmarks, still generally are down, and considerably so.
So, Chimpy’s Little Speech Today — Planned Well In Advance, Was It?
Q The event today about CAFE standards, when did that get added to the schedule?
MR. SNOW: Today. I mean, we’ve been discussing it for some time, but we made it official today.
Q Tony, as the President has this energy event today, what’s the administration doing about the current high price at the pump?
MR. SNOW: Well, there’s a lot of things. Keep in mind —
Q Is this going to have some immediate effect?
MR. SNOW: No, it’s not going to have an immediate effect.
Q Is there anything the administration — any part of the administration — Energy, many agencies in the Department of Energy — can do, or will do, to help ease these — bring down these prices right now?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, the fact is you’ve got a global marketplace and if you’re asking, is somebody going to put in price controls, no.
Pony Blow: Economist
Q Tony, for those of us who had a little trouble with Economics 101, what’s the free market incentive for the oil companies, the refiners to do anything about it? It seems like whenever they have these — problems with refineries, they just raise the price, profits remain healthy. Why should they do anything?
MR. SNOW: Well, on the other hand, when prices go up you also make it economically feasible for things that may not have been competitive in the past enter the marketplace and they become real competitors.
No, For A President Who’s Friends And Family Are Heavily Invested In The Oil Industry High Gas Prices Are A Good Thing
Q So for someone like the President who would like to see these two new technologies spurred on by economic incentives, high gas prices are a good thing?
MR. SNOW: No, the President is not happy about high gas prices, nor are the American people.
Short Les: I Got Nuthin’
Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. The Washington Post reports that the 400th anniversary of Jamestown yesterday had 10 years of planning, costs millions of dollars, was visited recently by Queen Elizabeth, and yesterday by the President and Governor of Virginia. But at that ceremony, I saw nothing of either of Virginia’s U.S. senators, whose offices this morning repeatedly refused to explain why they were absent. My question, does the President know any reason why these two Virginia U.S. senators failed to show up for this national and Virginia event?
MR. SNOW: Les, I would have you ask them.
Q I’ve tried, but I just wondered do you know why —
MR. SNOW: No.
Q You don’t know?
MR. SNOW: No, I don’t.
Q Okay. Remembering Senator Webb’s extraordinary rudeness to the President when Webb was invited to the White House last Christmastime, do you think Sunday’s Webb absence was possibly more of the same?
MR. SNOW: We had a reception at Christmas where we welcomed new members of Congress, and the President was happy to welcome one and all. And we have had no further comment on that. By the same token, I will have no further comment on the crisp and tendentious question.