When WillDana Peroxide Simply State That Your President Is Not A Crook?
Q I have a question on executive action. This is specific to the Office of Government Ethics, and specifically, there’s a few provisions in here dealing with the disclosure of classified information to unauthorized persons, as well as making false statements about any knowledge of that. I’d like to know, since the President has authorized — and only the President is authorized to allow the disclosure of this information to unauthorized persons — why, when he became aware that this happened, did he not remove from office any members of the executive branch that either disclosed this information, or had knowledge that it happened?
MS. PERINO: Paula, we have gone through this so many times, I’m just — I don’t have anything to add to the public record.
Q Well, I just have to ask about the timing, because prior to the criminal investigation by Patrick Fitzgerald, the President said that anyone that was involved in the disclosure of the identity of Valerie Plame would not longer work for the White House. And it was only after that criminal investigation began that he changed the ground rules to anybody that commits a crime will no longer work for the White House.
MS. PERINO: Paula, the person who revealed her name has said so publicly, and that person did not work at the White House.
Q But there was also the person that told Scott McClellan that he was not involved. And he was.
MS. PERINO: Thank you.
President Peppy McDonothing
Q Can you tell us what he’s doing in these meetings? Is he giving a pep talk to these leaders? Is he asking them to make concessions? Could you give more description?
MS. PERINO: The President, in these meetings, is encouraging the two leaders. First and foremost, he is saying that he is proud of them, for them to get to this moment.
A New Palestinian State Before Chimpy Shuffles Off To Crawford! Or Not
Q In your statement, you said something the two had hoped for some sort of conclusion?
MS. PERINO: President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert have both said that they would like to conclude this round of negotiations before the President leaves office.
Q Conclude it with what?
MS. PERINO: With getting to a permanent agreement for two states living side by side in peace and security.
Q Before the President leaves office?
MS. PERINO: That’s what they’ve said.
Q So that’s their timetable now?
MS. PERINO: That is what they’ve said.
Q Does that mean actual creation of a Palestinian state by then, or just —
MS. PERINO: I think it’s the negotiations in order to get to that point.
President Lazy McNotClinton
Q Was that the President who said history is full of —
MS. PERINO: That is exactly what he said. He said, “History is full of missed opportunities, because people just looked to the downside.” And he encouraged them to seize the moment.
Q But, Dana, when you talk about seizing an opportunity, why did it take the President almost seven years to take on a more active role in this process?
MS. PERINO: Ed, I think that anyone who — I have seen the storyline over the past week as we’ve led up to this conference, and I think that, first and foremost, I would ask you just to take a step back and look at what the President has done. He was the first President to call for a Palestinian state. That was a big step. And the Palestinians recognize that, Israel recognized that; the world woke up to the fact that this President was the one that said —
Q He didn’t —
MS. PERINO: — in order to have a peace in the region, you had to have a Palestinian state.
Q Well, what if he did actually make that a reality, though? Of course it was a big step to say, I’m for that, but what if the President —
MS. PERINO: The President worked with — well, look at the two leaders that the President is working with now.
Q But what about the fact of 2001 — I mean, The New York Times this morning reports about the first National Security Council meeting the President ever had, he said that he didn’t think a U.S. President should have such an active role, that it backfired on Bill Clinton to be so actively involved in the Mideast peace process. What’s changed now that he’s so actively involved —
MS. PERINO: I think we have a completely different circumstance now. You no longer have President Arafat, who the President labeled a terrorist. You don’t have him in the way anymore. You have a leader in President Abbas who has denounced terror and violence —
Q You don’t have —
MS. PERINO: Helen, can you please let me finish? You have a leader in President Abbas who has said that violence is not the way to get there, and that a Palestinian state is going to have to be one that is free from terror and violence.
President Empty McNoideas
Q Stephen Hadley said yesterday that President Bush would not propose his own ideas, with regard to the conference. Does President Bush have specific, concrete ideas for how to bring about the two-state solution?
MS. PERINO: Well, yes, and he announced those in 2002, when he announced the road map. And so we’ll have the negotiations, and the road map is part of this discussion, and you have to have pieces of it implemented in order to get to a permanent solution.
Q Well, if he has specific ideas, why is he not now putting them forward, and why would Stephen Hadley say something like that?
MS. PERINO: I think — what I believe what Steve Hadley meant — and I’ve been talking with him, and I’ve been in the meetings — is that the President is not going to try to solve this problem for them. This is for the Israelis and Palestinians to solve.
Looked Into His Soul, I Hear
Q On Russia, does the President, having embraced Putin so early in his administration, does he feel that he misjudged Putin? Is he disappointed?
MS. PERINO: This is a question that the President has gotten over and over again over the past several months. Here’s the President’s point: He believes that the best opportunity for Russia is to have a democracy. And there had been some movement towards democracy in many different areas, including in the press and certainly in the economy. But there have been steps backwards, as well.
Q And he doesn’t feel that he misjudged him? I mean, after the seeming embrace of Ahmadinejad and all these anti-democratic measures, he doesn’t feel that perhaps he judged Putin too early?
MS. PERINO: No, the President believes that what he saw in Putin is what is there.
Your President Is A Psycho
Q Dana, back to the meeting with Al Gore. I wonder just about the President’s reasoning for inviting the former Vice President. Does he want to hear from the former Vice President about global warming, or does he view this as an opportunity maybe to make amends, or to reconcile the past? What is his thinking about what —
MS. PERINO: I didn’t ask the President his psycho — I didn’t psychoanalyze the President to find out why he decided to invite Al Gore to the White House. There is an annual event in which the President invites the Nobel Prize winners — American Nobel Prize winners to the White House. Al Gore happens to be one of those recipients this year. And I believe it was a presidential, gentlemanly and a friendly thing to do to invite Al Gore to the White House. They have a private meeting, and I’m not going to intrude on that. Obviously, President Gore — Vice President Gore will bring up anything that he wants to bring up. But just remember —
Q But I’m asking, what does the President want to hear from — does he want to know — talk to him one on one?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know. Sheryl, I did not psychoanalyze the President —
Q It’s not psychoanalyzing —
MS. PERINO: Yes, it is. It is.
President Inaction McBlamenot
Q Mortgages: The administration policy towards this financial crisis — if you agree it’s a crisis — seems to be very reactive. We’ll have a negative headline, and the President will appear in the Rose Garden, or Secretary Paulson will give an interview to the Wall Street Journal. But there doesn’t seem to be a proactive policy. I mean, nothing is happening on the Senate side of the Hill and —
MS. PERINO: Jim, Jim —
Q What do you guys —
MS. PERINO: I know you don’t come around very often, missed a few things. The President, back on August 31st, had a large announcement regarding the issue. We do see it as a very significant problem. That is why we —
Q I was here August 31st —
MS. PERINO: — and we are implementing our side of what we can do through the executive branch. The fact that the Senate hasn’t moved is not the President’s fault. This is — that is a congressional matter, and I would refer you to them.
Q It seems like this is — as I said, it’s reactive.
MS. PERINO: That’s not — Jim, in addition to that, Secretary Paulson and Secretary Jackson also created the Hope Now program, which worked with the private sector in order to help people who were at risk of losing their homes.
Q One of the heads of the Financial Committee is out campaigning for President. I mean, has the President —
MS. PERINO: Again, that is a congressional matter, Jim, and if you want to place blame of inaction —
Q I don’t want to place blame. I’m just wondering —
MS. PERINO: — it’s not here. It’s at the Congress, and they’re going to have make those decisions and they’ll have to answer to the American people if they don’t act.
Q I’m not trying to place blame, I’m just —
MS. PERINO: I’m going to move on.
Les Picks On Chimpy’s Saudi Pals
Q Yes, thank you, Dana. Two questions. The Washington-Annapolis-Washington meeting has been called a quote, “peace conference.” My question: How does the President believe it can be a real peace conference when the Saudi Foreign Minister has announced that Saudis will not even shake hands with the Israelis?
MS. PERINO: The President is pleased that so many countries are coming to the conference, including the Arab nations. And this is a step forward, so we’ll take it from there.
Q Saudi Arabia has just sentenced a 20-year-old female victim of gang rape by seven men to 200 lashes because she was in a car with a man not her husband, brother, or father. And my question: Since this sentence has been strongly denounced by Democrat candidates, Clinton, Obama, Biden and Edwards, surely the President does not expect you, as a lady, to have no comment on this Saudi atrocity, does he?
MS. PERINO: I don’t think it matters if you’re a female or a male. I think that the situation is very discouraging and outrageous. There is an appeals process and we hope that the verdict changes. It is certainly not consistent with the judicial reforms that the Saudis have said that they would undertake.