I took a little break from the Internets yesterday, but today I’m back and so is Pony Blow.
Pony Blow: Professional Ass
Q How do you respond to critics who say that the United States should have done a lot more for Abbas a lot sooner? And do you think the administration feels any responsibility at all for the split, Palestinian split?
MR. SNOW: I think what you really need to be thinking about is the President of the United States did not bind people’s hands behind their back and throw them from rooftops. The President of the United States did not mascarade around with masks pulled over the face and slay people who disagreed with Hamas.
Q Some people are saying that the administration could have done more, earlier.
MR. SNOW: I can’t — “more, earlier,” what does that mean? I cannot respond to a vague criticism that sounds like backseat driving. I think what you really want at this point is to realize that the President has maintained a real commitment — the first President in American history to say that we should have a Palestinian state; a President who has worked aggressively on the diplomatic fronts to try to bring in people throughout the region not only to exert influence on those who are trying to destabilize, but also to create a larger partnership, so that it does become possible for the Israelis and the Palestinians to live peacefully, side-by-side. This is an administration that has been constantly involved in this activity.
Q The policy of isolating and cutting off Hamas has seemed to make it stronger in the past. Is there an indication now that it’s going to work differently this time?
MR. SNOW: I can’t imagine that killing people in the streets is going to be a big vote getter. The fact is that what people now have seen is that Hamas remains a terrorist organization. It had run on an anti-corruption campaign and it had made promises of bringing to people food and medical attention and social services, precisely the things that are being deprived because of this act of terror.
Pony Gets Helenized — Again
Q Did the President ask Olmert to release the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners and the one-third of the legislature — all lawmakers who are in prison?
MR. SNOW: Again, I am not going to tell you what the President may or may not —
Q You’re interested in humanity and democracy. Why don’t you make a plea for some of these people?
MR. SNOW: We’ll also plea for the end of slaughter in Gaza. Can we agree on that?
Q I say that you haven’t opened your mouth about people being kidnapped and taken prisoner in Israel.
MR. SNOW: There are conversations ongoing.
President Of Half Of Palestine
Q Tony, President Abbas has called for fresh peace talks. Today the President and the Prime Minister referred to Abbas repeatedly as the only representative of the Palestinians, the real representative of the Palestinian people. Is there any point to peace talks so long as he effectively controls, or is the government of half the Palestinian people?
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not — what you’re doing is you’re — the point is, yes, there is a point of talking to the person who has been elected. There is also a point of trying to restore a semblance of democracy throughout the Palestinian areas. This is not a time to try to write off Gaza. It is important, once again, to make sure that the rights of those in Gaza are honored.
Q I guess I’m specifically asking about peace negotiations with Israel, with the goal of the President’s two-state solution. If Hamas effectively controls Gaza, is the two-state solution effectively shelved?
MR. SNOW: No. We are going to continue — look, I think what you — there are a whole series of things that have to happen before you get to the two-state solution.
Q Could that two-state solution involve a state that’s just comprised of the West Bank?
MR. SNOW: There’s no conversation about that.
Hey! Things Are Getting Better In Iraq!
Q Okay, but look at Iraq. People are slaughtering people in Iraq, and it’s only getting worse and worse. And why in Hamas, if they’re looking at — I don’t see how you can’t be concerned that that is going to be —
MR. SNOW: Of course, we’re concerned about radicalism, and that’s why we’re doing what we can to stanch it. When you talk about Iraq, just today, you have seen yet other evidence that we continue to have — as General Petraeus was pointing out the other day, we now have some data points pulling together — and we’ve discussed this before — where, in fact, the blanket statement “it’s getting worse” doesn’t quite fit. It’s not getting worse in Baghdad neighborhoods, where, in fact, locals are cooperating. It’s certainly not getting worse in Anbar. Now you are seeing focused activities elsewhere, including areas outside of Baghdad and Diyala, going directly after al Qaeda.
One of the reasons why there is more precision and effectiveness in this particular case is that the Iraqi people themselves are beginning to provide evidence at levels that they haven’t done before. So the point here is that, again, what you try to do —
Q They’ve been doing that for years, and for year after year, people say they’re providing more, they’re providing more. But Diyala is an example. I mean, it’s a mess right now, and you have to do these large-scale operations because it has gone downhill, because people from Baghdad have moved up there.
MR. SNOW: Well, in some cases, also you’ve had a number of apprehensions and you’ve taken out bad guys. Martha, they’re terrorists. We understand that. They’re not simply going to lay down arms easily. But simply to say a problem is difficult is not the same as arguing that it should not be confronted.
Les Kinsolving I: Waste of Space
Q The London Times reports that Sir Salmon Rushdie is “once again the subject of death threats across the Islamic world” —
MR. SNOW: Okay, Les, don’t go any further. That’s not something — I’m not going to answer a Salmon Rushdie question today.
Q Well, wait a minute.
MR. SNOW: Okay, okay, continue and then I’ll shut you down. (Laughter.)
Q What is the President’s reaction to this, and do you know of any Islamic leaders in the United States who have denounced this murder for money —
MR. SNOW: Again — thank you.
Les Kinsolving II: It’s A Shame, They Could Have Built An Actual Human Being There
Q Wait a minute, wait a minute, I had two. Two.
MR. SNOW: It just seemed like two. Okay, go ahead.
Q The AP reports from London that British police, aided by U.S. authorities, have smashed a global Internet pedophile ring with 700 suspects worldwide. And as the President’s chief media advisor, do you know of any expressed and specific opposition to NAMBLA by any of this nation’s activist homosexual groups?
MR. SNOW: That is such a four-bumper shot. Thank you.
Q You’re dodging it?
MR. SNOW: No, I just think it’s inappropriate. I really do. If you want to bring in cheesy —
Q It’s a pretty important issue, Tony.
MR. SNOW: Les, the President made it absolutely clear what he thinks about the decency, dignity of every human being when it comes to pornography and exploitation. And it is absolutely — he has made it clear. He has gone after human traffickers, he’s gone after slavers, he’s gone after genocide in Darfur. You know it. I think you’ve got to be careful sometimes because it really does sound a little more tawdry than people expect in this room.