Dana Peroxide Calls On China To Refrain From Non-Violence
Q China sent more troops into Tibet to crack down on the demonstrators. The United States have any reaction to that?
MS. PERINO: I hadn’t heard about that development. What I can tell you is that last night Secretary Rice spoke to the Chinese Foreign Minister to very directly reiterate our views and concerns about the situation and told the Chinese that we would urge restraint in dealing with protestors, to refrain from non-violence [sic] and then Secretary Rice informed the President this morning of that conversation.
President FreedomAgenda Supports Dictators
Q Dana, back on China for a moment. I know you’ve said in the past that President Bush attending the Olympics, that he’s really doing so just as a sports fan and not to make any kind of political statement. But can you really separate the two? Can you really sort of divorce the two? He is obviously the leader of the United States. And for him to be attending, many people say it’s impossible not to be there as a political statement.
MS. PERINO: One, the President — one of the things the President has said also in regards to this is that any country who’s going to be hosting the Olympics will have a bright light shined upon it. And it is a chance for that country to put its best face forward, and it’s also a chance for other countries to learn more about the country.
And we are very concerned about what’s happening in Tibet, and we have expressed those concerns. And that’s something that President Bush and Secretary Rice can do that other citizens, concerned citizens around the world aren’t able to do, just because they’re not elected as a head of state. But the President, as head of state, has spoken very frankly to President Hu, and Secretary Rice has done the same with her counterparts, and we will continue to.
Q Follow on that? There is ample precedent for kind of a politicization of the Olympics. In 1980 the U.S. boycotted altogether because the host country, Russia, had invaded Afghanistan. Does the President think — intend to go to Beijing and have absolutely no political voice at all while he’s in China?
MS. PERINO: Actually, I think if you look back to some of the things he’s said before, that it — on a trip like that, he would make it a priority to have a meeting and a conversation with President Hu, which is something, again, that I said that he as a head of state is able to do, that other people aren’t able to do.
Big Time’s “So”
Q Dana, can I just follow on our colleague Martha Raddatz’s interview with the Vice President? Let’s set aside the meaning of the word “so” for a second, and get to something the Vice President then said about fluctuations in the public opinion polls: “You can’t be blown off course by fluctuations in public opinion polls.” That would suggest that at any point in recent memory that the American public has been behind the war. It’s not that there’s been fluctuations in polls; it’s been different degrees of opposition to the war. So is the Vice President saying it really doesn’t matter what the American public thinks about the war?
MS. PERINO: No, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying, and obviously I haven’t spoken to the Vice President since he’s traveling today and was in Kabul visiting with President Karzai a the request of the President. But what he went on to say is that President should not make decisions based on polls.
Q So at what point — I mean, I guess I just — there is the impression that the Vice President doesn’t care about what the American people think in policy like that. Is that a wrong impression? And does the President share that impression?
MS. PERINO: I think that is the wrong impression. I think that the Vice President and the President both, together, all of us across the administration, would like for people to support the President’s decisions. We realize that that’s unrealistic, especially in a time of war — and in particular this war.
Dana Left An Opening For Helen
Q The American people are being asked to die and pay for this, and you’re saying they have no say in this war?
MS. PERINO: I didn’t say that, Helen. But, Helen, this President was elected —
Q Well, what it amounts to is you saying we have no input at all.
MS. PERINO: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.
Q Every four years.
MS. PERINO: And we listen to —
Q It sounds familiar.
MS. PERINO: — different points of view. The President, in fact, had many meetings with members of Congress leading up to his decision about the surge.
Q Supposed to be a government for the people, of the people, by the people?
MS. PERINO: I would submit to you that people across America, if asked what type of a President do you want: one that stands on principle or that one that chases polls? And I think that they would want —
Q What’s the principle of going to war against the people who did nothing to us?
MS. PERINO: Helen, the President went to war to remove Saddam Hussein. He talked all about this yesterday in his speech. I’ll refer you to that.
Q As far as Osama bin Laden and our national security is concerned, he has issued another tape and warning Europe and it may affect the United States. And also, yesterday Senator Obama called on the President to bring Osama bin Laden, who is in Pakistan. Does he think he’s still alive, Osama bin Laden?
MS. PERINO: I would put it this way. The intelligence community analyzed the tape. They do believe that that was his voice. So that would mean that for all things — for all that we know, that he is still alive. And the President has a very aggressive hunt on for Osama bin Laden.