Peroxidce Peroxide (Damn!) held a gaggle this monring morning (Double-Damn!) primarily dealing with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s pending visit with Chimpy at Camp David. The most interesting tidbit I gleaned from that discussion was that neo-imperialist Abe’s grandfather once played golf with Chimpy’s Nazi-loving grandfather.
The discussion of Abe’s trip was followed by a conventional gaggle.
Q I’d like to ask you about the level of political discourse about Iraq. The Vice President and President are accusing the Democrats of being defeatist, they’re talking about surrender dates. Senator Reid comes back and calls the Vice President an attack dog. What happened to the thought that there was going to be an elevated debate; they were going to be more high minded, not as mean spirited?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that what happens in Washington at times of high drama and passion on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, that there are times when you’re trying to make your substantive point, that the rhetoric can sometimes lead you to say things that you might not otherwise say in a one-on-one conversation.
I do think that when talking about a surrender date, it is very descriptive of what we believe is in the legislation. It says, you must leave on this day, and we think that that tells the enemy that they’ve won and that we’ve surrendered. And I think that’s a good way to explain it to the American people.
Q Well, and you say that you’re not questioning their patriotism, but by calling them defeatist and talking about surrender, you don’t think that that gets close to that line of not —
MS. PERINO: I think that what we have done is argued on the merits and on the substance of our arguments. And I don’t know if that’s always been the case on the other side. I grant you that I think that tension is high, because the stakes are high. And we feel very strongly that leaving before the job is done is turning over the victory to the enemy. And this is an enemy that, as the President has said many times, people need to understand is not only vying for control of Iraq, is a sworn enemy of the United States being helped by other sworn enemies of the United States, and that we ought to take this very seriously.
Q But don’t you think that words matter? I mean, doesn’t that suggest —
MS. PERINO: I certainly think —
Q — “helping the enemy” — doesn’t “helping the enemy” suggest some kind of lack of patriotism?
MS. PERINO: I think if you look at what the President has said, is that we are kidding ourselves if we think that the Qaeda is not trying to create a safe haven as they had in Afghanistan. And by us leaving too soon, before the Iraqis are able to take care of their country themselves, that that is what the President is trying to argue. And I would say that someone who calls the President a liar and a loser does not have very strong ground to stand on in talking about name-calling.
It’s Gonna Be The Bestest Veto Ceremony Evah!
Q When the President vetoes the war supplemental, as we think he’ll get it, what does he do then? Will he reach out to Congress and say, okay, here’s where we can move from here?
Q And when do you think — how quickly would he veto it after the Senate votes?
MS. PERINO: Let us try to — we don’t even know when we’re going to get the actual vote. We have some general idea, but not specifically. I think it’s safe to say soon after.
Q Well, “soon after” meaning — I mean, if the President is at Camp David for the day, would he do it without any ceremony?
MS. PERINO: Let me just say soon after. I don’t believe that we’re going to be getting it on Friday.
Q Do you envision, though, a formal — I don’t want to call it a ceremony, but for lack of a better word — event, at this point?
MS. PERINO: We’re talking about it, and what we would do, but we don’t have any plans yet to announce. We’re thinking about it.
Q But this would be only his second veto, and I recall that during the stem cell veto, there was an elaborate event in which he brought families. I’m wondering if you’re planning to bring military —
MS. PERINO: A little bit too early for us to preview, since we don’t even have the bill yet and we don’t know what day that it’s coming. It’s important.
Q Yes, but you can get it together.
MS. PERINO: We’re pretty good. (Laughter.)
Q Just call it a “no surrender” party. (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: We’ll take that under consideration.
Q A great Bruce Springsteen, “No Retreat, No Surrender.”
MS. PERINO: I don’t think he’d come. (Laughter.)
Care To Discuss The National Enquirer’s Latest Series, Dana?
Q Dana, continuing on the political discourse, Rahm Emanuel is going to have a speech today in which he’s going to say that Bush is more corrupt than Nixon in Watergate, and that the government has become a step-child, his words, of the Republican Party.
MS. PERINO: That’s really surprising, given the messenger, that this is the speech that he’s going to be giving. I heard yesterday, too, that he’s going to be calling it part of a grand conspiracy, which I think is the recurring nightmare. But the nightmare we thought we had woken up from is recurring. We thought that the vast right-wing conspiracy was over, and I think that some of the comments that, at least were described to me yesterday from a reporter who had seen the prepared remarks, it sounded a little more like something you would see in the National Enquirer, not at a prestigious American think tank.
Tanned, Rested, And Ready
Q Al Jazeera is reporting, in an interview with Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are alive and well, and that Osama bin Laden had directed the attack on Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan. I was wondering if you have any comment or reaction to that.
MS. PERINO: No, I think — it’s an interesting comment from somebody over there. I haven’t seen al Jazeera’s transcript, and we’ll see if we can look into it, but we don’t have any comment from here.
Not Important Enough For A Briefing
Q Did the President have an opportunity to see or review any of the testimony from the Tillman family or Jessica Lynch on the Hill yesterday?
MS. PERINO: I don’t believe so, since he was traveling and he had a full day yesterday. And I haven’t talked to him today in terms of whether he saw any news coverage of it.
Q Well, maybe if you could check on that — as the Commander-in-Chief —
MS. PERINO: I would doubt it. I mean, he was on the road all day. He didn’t get home until about 8:30 p.m. last night.
Q He was on the road all day when Gonzales testified, too, and he was fully briefed on that.
MS. PERINO: Yes. That’s because his Attorney General was testifying, and you guys were —
Q I’m just curious if —
MS. PERINO: — wanting to know what the President’s reaction to the testimony was. And I don’t know if he saw any of the testimony. Obviously, he feels very deeply for the Tillman family and what they are going through, and he said so.
“No Indication That The President Had Prior Knowledge” – Dana’s Favorite Non-Denial Denial
Q The allegations made yesterday, there were deliberate attempts to use Pat Tillman’s character, popularity, et cetera, and Jessica Lynch also saying that her unfortunate episode was used to try to — used for PR purposes —
MS. PERINO: I think those accusations were taken very seriously, and that’s why the Department of Defense did the extensive investigations that they did. There is no indication that the President had prior knowledge to the question surrounding their circumstances and their aftermath, and obviously the President feels very strongly that the Department of Defense should follow up when there are questions of — whenever something might have been improperly told from the ground.
Q When you said — I believe you said that he learned of it from news reports.
MS. PERINO: I was asked by your network yesterday, and I said that there was no indication that he had any prior knowledge before the family would have known.
Q Isn’t that a little odd that, if this were the case, the Department of Defense wouldn’t let him know?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that’s why there was an investigation.