Helen Thomas Nails The Chimp-In-Chief Once AgainToday
Q The President said in his speech that — to expect many more casualties. How many more Americans is he willing to sacrifice to keep this war going?
MR. SNOW: You know, what’s interesting, Helen, is if you ask the people who are — if you take a look at what’s going on in recruitment right now, the people who are most likely to sign up are the people who are involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if you talk to a number of them, they feel that they are part of something very special, which is something that is certainly a difficult mission, but it also reflects the finest traditions of the United States of America, which is what people are fighting for — to liberate others and to extend the boundaries of liberty, and to create the possibility for allies who are going to be not only allies in the war on terror, but examples of exactly the power of freedom.
The President wishes that nobody had to die. This is something that is deeply personal. He quite often meets with families of those who have been wounded and killed. On the other hand, the real question is, what happens if the United States walks away? And the answer is that many, many more people will be washed away in needless bloodshed as forces of terror draw confidence and encouragement from the fact that we will not have finished the job.
And Then Helen Asked The Question of the Day
Q I have one follow-up. Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?
MR. SNOW: Yes, the President. The President is in the war every day.
Q Come on. That isn’t my question.
MR. SNOW: If you ask any President who is a Commander-in-Chief —
Q On the front lines —
MR. SNOW: The President.
Q Thank you. A Pentagon report says violence has increased in Iraq in spite of the surge. Does the President intend to send more U.S. troops to Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Actually, the 90-10 report says that the overall levels have been high, but if you take a look at some of the metrics which have been taking place in Baghdad, you have a seen a decrease in sectarian violence, and you’ve also seen a number of other metrics, for instance, 34 percent decrease in violence in Anbar. Nevertheless, we’ve seen al Qaeda moving to other places and also using more deadly means, such as explosively formed projectiles.
Pony Opens With A Cowardly Attack On Harry Reid…
MR. SNOW: We are a little bit concerned about some reports on the Internet that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a conversation with liberal bloggers, had referred to General Pete Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as incompetent, and apparently, again according to the reports, had said disparaging things also about General David Petraeus. We certainly hope it’s not true, because in a time of war, for a leader of a party that says it supports the military, it seems outrageous to be issuing slanders toward the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and also the man who is responsible for the bulk of military operations in Iraq.
Indeed, Senator Reid has, at some point, declared the war lost, and also has declared the surge a failure, even though it has not yet been fully enacted. I don’t know if it’s true or not. If it is true, I certainly hope he does apologize.
… And The Gagglers Call HIm On His Bullshit…
Q How come you didn’t wait to find out? Why the preemptive strike?
MR. SNOW: Well, I just think it’s appropriate to comment on it.
Q Whether or not it’s true?
Q That things are outrageous, but you don’t know whether they are or not they are true.
MR. SNOW: Well, do you trust the Politico? I don’t know. We’ll give a call, but —
Q You never like to comment on things that we hear —
Q — but you say are hypothetical.
MR. SNOW: You got me.
…Which Opens Up A Can Of Worms Pony Would Rather Keep Sealed
Q Tony, you say that you’re outraged by Senator Reid’s comments, whatever they were, about —
MR. SNOW: Let’s say, if it’s true.
Q — about General Pace, but yet the President chose not to stand up for General Pace in the face of senators who said they didn’t want to go through a hearing, that would be tough on Iraq and he would be an easy target. So how can you —
MR. SNOW: No, that would be your characterization. In fact, what the President did is he accepted the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense, who thought at the time that the nation’s interests would not best be served by a spectacle like that. And, instead, what he ended up doing, after conversations with General Pace, decided to make some changes.
Q But isn’t that what Secretary Gates recommended, is that — not to stick up for General Pace, even —
MR. SNOW: I don’t think that’s — I don’t think General Pace or Secretary Gates would put it that way. What they decided to do was to spare the General, and also the American public, the kind of spectacle that I think in some ways explains the low esteem with which people regard the entire political class in Washington, especially Congress. So if you want to get the proper characterization of motives, I would direct you to Secretary Gates.
Q I’m just saying it seems like you’re having it both ways. You call these comments outrageous, but, yet, you didn’t stand up for General Pace.
MR. SNOW: No, I think the President has constantly stood up for General Pace and has also made it clear that he values his 40 years of service to this country. I don’t think that is at all the case.
Q You went ahead with the hearing for General Casey, and that was a difficult hearing. Why not General Pace?
MR. SNOW: Again, I will direct you to — number one —
Q What kind of spectacle are you talking about? What did you expect?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know. I was not privy to the conversations. I’m repeating to you what Secretary Gates has said, and if you want further detail on that, I’d direct you to him.
Q I’m sorry, I interrupted my own questioning here. What about General Casey? He stood up for General Casey, he went ahead with that hearing. That was a difficult hearing — why not General Pace?
MR. SNOW: Again, I would direct you to Secretary Gates, but at least based on the characterizations I’ve seen, I think he was talking about something that would be far nastier than what we saw with General Casey.
Q Tony, back on General Pace, how do you reconcile the administration’s tenacity and persistence in supporting General Gonzales — Attorney General Gonzales in the face of contentious, and some are saying politically motivated hearings, and the unwillingness to do the same for General Pace? Is there a difference in confidence level?
MR. SNOW: No, I don’t — no. And, again, this is — the recommendation was made by the Secretary of Defense. And I don’t know what all went into it, but I know that, as he said, he went in intending and wanting to renominate General Pace and also Ambassador [sic] Giambastiani. And he thought that what he was hearing from the Hill would have led to a spectacle that he did not think was going to be useful to the country. I really can’t add much to that, Ken.
But there is no — there is no lack of confidence or affection or respect for General Pace. I mean, this is a guy who has served the country for 40 years. And we all would have liked to have seen him able to serve another term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I can’t really go any further than the Secretary of Defense, because it was his recommendation.
Q It sounds like the President uncharacteristically stepping away from a fight.
MR. SNOW: No. No, it’s just — no. What the President has done quite often is he also abides by the recommendations of Cabinet secretaries on such matters.
Les Kinsolving, Still Irrelevant
Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. The New York Post has noted with concern that New York’s Senator Clinton has named as co-chairman of her Florida presidential campaign Congressman Alcee Hastings. And my question: As the leader of the Republican Party, what is the President’s reaction to Hillary’s appointment of this same man that House leaders Pelosi, Hoyer, Conyers and Rangel and 409 more members of the House voted to impeach, and the Senate voted to remove from a judgeship for bribery and perjury?
MR. SNOW: The President does not spend a lot of time reviewing personnel decisions by the junior senator from New York, nor any others who are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He will let them make their own choices.