Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Pony Blow Was Playing DumbToday

Q Is the Wolfowitz saga going to play itself out today, or is it — what do you know about that?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know — again, we’ve made our position known. We know there are meetings ongoing. But I don’t have anything new.

Q And they asked for an adjournment for some discussion. Do you have any idea what that was about?

MR. SNOW: No, I’d refer all questions back there. I don’t — I mean, we’re led to believe they are going to be meeting further today, but I don’t have anything new.

[snip]

Q This morning you said there were a lot of conversations going on regarding Wolfowitz.

MR. SNOW: Regarding what?

Q Wolfowitz. Are administration officials involved in those negotiations?

MR. SNOW: Again, I’m just — you’re going to have to — look, let me put it this way — we do have a representative on the board of governors, it is the Treasury Secretary. But beyond that, I’m not going to get into anything that may be transpiring.

Q Are you denying, then, that the administration is negotiating some kind of a deal —

MR. SNOW: I’m not discussing it, yea or nay.

He Might Also Have Been LyingJust A Little Bit

The World Bank’s executive board has dismissed a proposal floated by the Bush administration aimed at delivering the resignation of the institution’s embattled president, Paul D. Wolfowitz, according to senior officials at the bank.

The proposal, pressed with foreign finance ministers by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., would have had the bank’s board reprimand but not fire Wolfowitz for engineering and covering up a substantial raise for his girlfriend, with the bank expressly sharing some of the blame for the ethics controversy. Following that, the Bush administration would have agreed to replace Wolfowitz, said administration sources who spoke on condition they not be named, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

But the board rejected that formulation in discussions last night and today, the sources said. The board is deliberating over a report by an investigating committee that finds Wolfowitz breached his contract, broke ethics rules and undermined the reputation of the bank. The board’s leadership was hoping to resolve the matter and take action — perhaps declaring a lack of confidence in Wolfowitz or even firing him — by the end of today.

Back To The Gaggle, Where Pony Implies That James Comey Is A Liar

Q Senator Chuck Hagel said that Alberto Gonzales has lost the moral authority to lead and that he should resign. What’s your reaction?

MR. SNOW: We disagree, and the President supports the Attorney General.

Q But what about that idea that —

MR. SNOW: He also does not —

Q — that the actions laid out in the testimony seemed to undermine the authority of the Acting Attorney General?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, Jim Comey gave his side of what transpired that day. The President still has full confidence in Alberto Gonzales.

Pony Blow: Smarmy Ass

Q Tony, I noticed on one of your press releases today about Lieutenant General Lute that there were several quotes — you may have done this in the past, but there were quotes from General Petraeus saying how great he is, and Ambassador Crocker. Are these things — you have your press office solicit quotes from people, particularly someone in uniform, to make positive comments about people you know?

MR. SNOW: No, I don’t know how the quotes came about. We didn’t do it out of the White House press office. But on the other hand —

Q It appears they — it didn’t have any source other than he said it yesterday.

MR. SNOW: Yes, well, look, I think it’s — on the question, does General Petraeus think he’s a good and worthy choice, the answer is, yes.

Q And do you think it’s appropriate to just send out — or did they call him up, or how did they solicit these quotes?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know, Martha, but it’s clearly a burning issue so we’ll look into it for you.

Why A War Czar Four Years Into The War?

Q Back on Lute. Why did it take so long, now into the fifth year of the war, to come up with somebody of his seniority and stature?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know. I think what happened is, again, as you’re taking a review, it became clear to us that this — as you develop — as you move into a new phase of the war — keep in mind, we are still in the process of deploying people in this new way forward, as the President called it, and therefore, it seems proper at a time like this also to task somebody with the job of keeping an eye on all the different players who are involved in it.

What we do have is a different set of policies governing what’s going on in Iraq. It is something that is government-wide in its scope, and therefore, it is appropriate to have somebody coming in, in a new position, in support of a new philosophy and a new way forward in Iraq, not only to monitor progress, but to do everything possible to assist those on the ground to help them succeed.

Q So you think this is a new need and you did not need someone to do this for the previous four years?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, I’m not going to try — I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for you. I’m telling you that’s what he’s here to do now.

Question of the Day

Q Tony, on the newly created Lute position, is the President adding a new layer of bureaucracy in an attempt to cut through the bureaucracy?

MR. SNOW: That’s an interesting way of putting it. What he’s doing, I think, is adding — what he’s doing is he’s just creating an action officer who can actually deal with the people involved on the ground, to make sure that you’ve got the proper kind of information flow, you’re getting the inputs you need to make the proper judgments about what’s working and what’s not — if something is not working, you adjust, and if people need additional assistance in order to get their mission done properly, you try to provide it.

Disrupting the Chain of Command

Q Tony, to coordinate and facilitate is great, but doesn’t he also need some kind of power to jerk chains, light fires, to actually get things done among competing and sometimes jealous agency turf battles? Will the General be given any special powers? Or what will the administration do to facilitate his authority?

MR. SNOW: I think when you have somebody calling who is an Assistant to the President, dealing directly on — first, let me step back. The members of the President’s Cabinet are committed to the success of these things. Those certainly can serve as points of contact; they are the ones who are going to be responsible for making sure that their departments and agencies function properly. He’s going to have the ability to communicate with them. And at the same time, you have to be respectful of chains of command and responsibility.

Les Loved The Hair Cut Joke

Q What is the President’s reaction to the report that Congress has an even lower poll rating than he does, and to Governor Huckabee’s notation that Congress spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop?

MR. SNOW: Pretty good line. The President — look, the President has made it clear that his job is to lead the country and he continues to do that.

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