TodayDana Peroxide Tried (And Failed) To Express Chimpy’s Unwaivering Support For Musharraf
Q Benazir Bhutto made it sound like her conversations with U.S. officials are — that U.S. officials are trying to plan with her and perhaps asked her to participate in a post-Musharraf government. Is that what the administration is doing?
MS. PERINO: That I have not heard. Of course, we have been in communication with both President Musharraf and his officials, as well as opposition party candidates and leaders.
Q But is there any planning, active planning for how to support a post-Musharraf government in Pakistan?
MS. PERINO: The President, who is in the best position to know what his policy is, is to support President Musharraf getting back to a constitutional government, where there could be moderation and stability, democracy and the prosperity that comes from it. And we are focused on getting back on that track immediately.
Q What’s the reaction to the appointment of a Musharraf ally — upcoming appointment — as prime minister?
MS. PERINO: I had — I have not heard about that development. What’s most important is that Pakistan get back on this path to democracy, and President Musharraf has the responsibility to help get his country back on a track that he had helped establish with a freer media, better education system, better public health system, and all the prosperity that comes from an improved capital market system.
Q That’s all fine, but what are we going to do if he doesn’t do it?
MS. PERINO: Well, we are focused on helping them get back there and to do it, and so that all the moderate forces can work together so that they can establish it. Look, our — there needs to be a long-term stake of this country — on behalf of this country in terms of a partnership with Pakistan. Many Pakistanis are skeptical of our stated commitment to work with them because of what’s happened in the past. The President’s commitment is to help make sure democracy takes hold. They made a decision — President Musharraf made a decision the President didn’t agree with. We are disappointed with it, but the President doesn’t want to preemptively throw up his hands; he wants to help him get back on track.
Q Maybe they’re also skeptical of his willingness to do anything that the President wants him to do.
MS. PERINO: This is — the responsibility for getting back on track is President Musharraf’s. And I believe that he does have the Pakistanis’ best interests in mind.
Q But you said — you said the President is committed to helping President Musharraf get back on the path to democracy. Does that mean that the President is committed to Musharraf as the leader of Pakistan —
MS. PERINO: Pakistan is going to have to work that out. In terms of — if they get back on the path to democracy, and have the free and fair elections for the parliament, then that will be a significant step and one that President Musharraf has said he is committed to.
Q I guess what I’m asking is, is sticking with Pakistan, does that mean sticking with Musharraf?
MS. PERINO: The Pakistanis are going to have to decide on their leadership.
Q Wouldn’t it in fact make sense to plan for a post-Musharraf Pakistan? There’s a possibility that he might not, in fact, survive.
MS. PERINO: Well, I’ll give them your advice.
Then Dana Was Helenized
Q Why does he think he moved in that direction?
MS. PERINO: Why President Musharraf decided to take that action? The decision that President Musharraf made is one that we disagreed with, and we tried to talk him out of it.
Q — five days. Why did he move, do you know?
MS. PERINO: That is something that President Musharraf is going to have to answer for. He’s made public statements as to why he thinks he needed to do that.
Q Why do you — expand on what his motive is?
MS. PERINO: I believe that there is a desire to make sure that there is safety and stability in Pakistan. Remember, since July, 800 people — Pakistanis — have been murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. And so there is a safety and security concern. It’s a dangerous country.
Q That’s his motivation?
MS. PERINO: You’re going to have to look back at his public comments. I’m not going to speak for President Musharraf, Helen.
Q Well, I’m asking what do we understand of why he’s had — grabbed power.
MS. PERINO: You have — we have to look to his public statements to see why he made the decision he made.
Chimpy Wants To Kill The Consitution
Q The President’s Federalist Society remarks tonight, which you’ve sent us excerpts of — I’m interested in his attack on those who advocate the living Constitution, and saying that in practice, the living Constitution means whatever these activists want it to mean. The President presumably is aware that Justice Stephen Breyer has a book out on this subject. Is he attacking Justice Breyer directly here?
MS. PERINO: No, I don’t think that there was anything specific, and I don’t think — in discussions, I don’t believe it came up. But what I can say is that the President has for many years said that what his position is on judicial nominees is that he looks for someone who believes like he does; that the Constitution is the Constitution and it shouldn’t evolve based on different public policy positions. I’m not aware — I wasn’t aware that Justice Breyer had a book.
Q In a larger sense, though, does he believe that Justice Breyer and other advocates of this policy, to quote him from elsewhere in the speech, are — pursue judicial lawlessness in a way that is a threat to our democracy?
MS. PERINO: The President does not believe that we should have a living Constitution. He believes the Constitution is the Constitution.
The Department Of A Fool And His Money
Q Dana, will White House employees and Justice Department people be allowed to contribute to the Alberto Gonzales legal defense fund?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know specifically about that one, but I know in general you are allowed in your personal capacity to contribute to any cause that you want to contribute to, whether or not you are a federal employee or private citizen.