Monday, June 27, 2005

PGH: Improving Administration Responses

Press Briefing Scott McClellan

James S. Brady Briefing Room

June 27, 2005

2:12 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. Let me begin by giving you a preview of tomorrow night's remarks.

Iraq: good. Terrorists: bad.

So the President looks forward to speaking to the American people
tomorrow night. You will hear from him in much greater detail, but I
wanted to give you a little bit of a preview to begin with. And with
that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.

Q Scott, are there new details in the strategy for success? Is there a new direction, or is the President basically summing up what he has said before?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, this is a new speech. Are you suffering hearing loss? Or are you just stupid. Maybe English isn't a language you're familiar with. Would it help if I spoke, oh, I don't know, something like Klingon? 'Cause English definitely seems to be a problem for you.

Q Well, I guess what I'm asking is, are people going to hear things they haven't heard the President say before? Are there new details?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think many Americans have not heard much of what the President has to say tomorrow night. You see, many Americans still get their news from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the like. And you guys are notorious for ignoring facts and repeating Democratic talking points. So, the President has decided to tell his message himself.

Q The question is, is there a new direction, though, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: You're going to hear from the President tomorrow night. I guess I could tell you now so that you can show 'Survivor' or 'When Animals Attack' or something like that instead of the leader of the free world. But how about letting the President deliver his own speeches? Or would you rather we do all speeches in a press conference format with me delivering it? And suppose we start with next January's State of the Union? Would that make you happy?

Q Isn't the message really more patience? Isn't that really what the President is going to be requesting, something he's --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think if you go back to September 11th -- remember, on September 11th the threats of the 21st century were brought to our shores. We saw in a very clear way the threats that we face on that day.

And the President said shortly after the attacks of September 11th that this is a long struggle that we're going to be in, that this is a different kind of war, one which we have never seen before. Or were you not paying attention?

What, you have an attention span of maybe five minutes? How did you get press credentials? Win them in a poker game?

Q Heard anything from the Supreme Court since we last talked?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I mentioned earlier today, I work for the President. That's a different branch of the government. You see, the Supreme Court is the Judicial Branch. The President is the Executive Branch. It's in this little thing called the Constitution. You ought to look it up and read it some time.

Q But you haven't heard anything, the President hasn't been alerted, hasn't received a letter or anything?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I indicated this morning to some of you all, I said that I'm going to draw the line here because I'm not going to go down that road. If there is a vacancy to announce, I would imagine that that would come out of the Supreme Court first.

I mean, yes, I hear things. About the Supreme Court. About you. And if you want me to tell what I hear instead of what I know, I'll do that. Does your wife know about the hooker you meet on Thursday's at the Motel 6? I thought not.

Q When the President talks about high gasoline prices, he often cites the demand for gasoline and crude oil from China. Is the President comfortable that the company partly owned by his campaign media advisor is assisting the Chinese in their attempt to purchase Unocal?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of that matter, we are following those reports closely. If a bid were to go through, like all foreign-based transactions, there is a regulatory process that is in place that will be followed to address any national security concerns. So in other words, there are procedures in place, and if a bid goes through, then we would expect the appropriate procedures to be followed. You do understand 'appropriate procedures' don't you? Or should I use smaller words?

Q But is he comfortable with this company that was so closely aligned with his --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know about any such involvement.

Q Well, Public Strategies out of Austin, Texas is helping CNO buy Unocal.

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, that company! That's the one who has Jeff Eller as Managing Director? The same Jeff Eller that's worked for then-Governor Clinton in December of 1991, first as Florida state campaign director, then as political communications director for the national campaign? That Public Strategies in Austin, Texas? I can get you Bill Clinton's phone number if you want to ask him.

Q But it's just that it's a really close tie to the White House, and would the President be comfortable in using this company again for any further media strategies that he may have to engage in, or is this just part of free enterprise?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, the company's Managing Director worked for Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush. Mr. Clinton was at the Billy Graham Crusade in New York if you want to talk to him. Or are you afraid to go somewhere that might have a crucifix displayed?

Q Two questions. First, you've said in the past that, on the matter of Matt Cooper and Judith Miller that the President supports the investigation. What specific steps is the White House taking to support it? Has the President called people into the Oval Office?

MR. McCLELLAN: What I said is the President wants to get to the bottom of the investigation. I'm thinking you're having trouble with English, too. What language would you rather I speak?

Q Has he called specific people into the Oval Office to ask them if they --

MR. McCLELLAN: What we made a decision to do was to support the efforts of the independent prosecutor to move forward on the investigation and that's what we're doing. I know this concept of supporting an independent prosecutor is something you're having trouble understanding, but remember, George Bush isn't Bill Clinton.

Q And the Ten Commandments decision by the Supreme Court, what's the White House's reaction to these two decisions?

MR. McCLELLAN: As you point out, there were two cases. And first of all, we respect the Court's decision. The Texas decision is one we liked. But the Kentucky decision sucked.

But, again, we respect the Court's decision. Overall, they do okay for a bunch of senile old farts.

Q Is this the sort of case, the Kentucky case, that could be decided differently in a future court -- that you were hoping would be decided differently?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, no. Not at all. We were hoping to lose that case. What kind of dumbass question is that? Do you still have to wear a helmet when you go out and play?

Q Scott, if so much progress has been made in Iraq, why is the public support dropping so steadily?

MR. McCLELLAN: If so much progress has been made? I think we can go through and talk about the progresses made. There has been --

Q The question is why --

MR. McCLELLAN: The question is why are you such a dumbass? Are you that clueless? Don't you know that there has been significant progress made in just a year's time? It takes time to build a democracy. Our own nation went through a lot of struggles before we were able to build the kind of democracy that thrives today.

Q But why is public support dropping so much?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we're a nation at war, and war is something that is very tough. It is tough to see the images of violence on the screens of our televisions. The networks, all they can do is seek to grab headlines by spreading their destruction and fear and violence and attacking innocent civilians. They have no vision to offer, they have no alternative to offer the Iraqi people. All they seek to do is spread an ideology of hatred and oppression.

And so when you see those images on your TV screens, people are rightly disturbed by those images. And that's why it's important, at a time like this, when it is a critical moment in Iraq, it is important for the President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, to talk to the American people and to talk to them about the nature of the enemy that we face, and to talk to them about the way forward to victory in Iraq. We are succeeding and we will succeed, but it requires that we remain strong in our resolve. It takes balls to fight a war. But you wouldn't know about that, would you?

Q Scott, just to follow up on what Terry was trying to ask -- you said the President is going to get very specific. I understand he's not going to shift strategy at all. But, in terms of specifics, is it going to be the kind of thing where he's going to talk about how many battalions have been trained in Iraq? Is that the kind of thing you think that Americans don't know about? Or is it going to be, you know, presenting new initiatives and new ideas, things we don't know about?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, yeah, sure. The President is going to lay out how many troops, what the strategies are, everything the enemy needs to know in order to counter our troops --

Q I'm just trying to --

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but your buddies in al-Qaeda and Syria will just find out when we light their asses up with a missile or something.

Q I guess my question is, beyond discussing, perhaps in great detail, what's already going on right now, is he going to offer new ideas, new initiatives, either from the U.S. -- joint initiatives with the U.S. and other countries -- in order to make what he says the goal -- is possible?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I would describe it the way I did. You really aren't paying attention, are you. What's that on your monitor there? 'As The World Turns?" I mean, if you're not going to pay attention, why don't you go play in traffic?

Q Prime Minister Al Jaafari, in London a little while ago, said that two years will be more than enough to establish security in his country. What does the President think of that time frame, and is that a time line that might send any dangerous signal as you have discussed --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't imagine that's what he was trying to set, some sort of time line. But I haven't seen his comments, so it's hard for me to comment directly on what he said without seeing the context of his comments. I mean, I can't very well depend on what you say, can I? You can't get right what the President says or what I say, and we all speak the same language. How can I trust what you report on someone half a world away who speaks a different language?

Q Scott, regarding what has been extensively reported by the Times of both New York and Washington, as well as The Washington Post, does the President agree with Senators Clinton and Schumer and Governor Pataki that it is wrong for the federally unrecognized Shinnecock Indians of Long Island to sue for 3,600 acres of South Hampton vicinity, plus billions of dollars in back rent and interest in order to build a gambling casino? And I have a follow-up.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me take your question and look into it, see if there's anything else to get to you on it.

Q All right. The President surely honors the federal battlefield and cemeteries for all of those killed at Gettysburg, including a good number of Texans. So does he believe that one and a half miles from this hallowed ground, there should be allowed the erection of a gambling casino or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I haven't even looked into these issues. Didn't I just say that? What are you, stupid?

Q Extensively featuring --

MR. McCLELLAN: Didn't you just hear me say --

Q He's opposed, in other words.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- we'll look into the details and --

Q He's opposed, then, to --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- look at the request.

Q -- these gambling casinos, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if it's a state matter or a local matter, we don't tend to insert ourselves into it. If it's a federal matter, I'll be glad to take a look into it and see what else we can go you on it. So, is my saying this three times good enough for you?

Q Thank you very much.

Q Chancellor Schroeder had some comments about Iran on the way -- on the flight over here that seem to acknowledge Iran's rights to develop nuclear energy. And yet he said, when he was in the presence of the President, that it was important that there be a crystal-clear message to Iran about that. Are you comfortable that the Germans feel that Iran should not only not have a nuclear weapons program, should not have anything that might morph into a nuclear weapons program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you heard from the two leaders. They did discuss the importance of continuing to send a strong, tough message to the regime in Iran. This isn't a question about the rights of the Iranian people. The Iranian people are denied most of their rights.

I have a hard time understanding why you propose we grant 'rights' that aren't rights to dangerous nations that deny rights that are basic human rights to its own people. You must be retarded or something.

In terms of the Iranian people, we continue to stand with the Iranian people who seek greater freedom.

Go ahead, John.

Q Scott, could you talk a little bit more about the nature of the enemy? And what I'm specifically wondering about is, it seems that a significant percentage of the terrorists involved in the violence in Iraq are not Iraqis. And I'm wondering if you can say whether the non-Iraqi percentage is going up? And if that's a concern, if that's the case, is there anything more the United States can do to stop the flow of those people into Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, since the terrorists in Iraq don't register with us, and we have to depend on either intelligence, which isn't always accurate, or identifying terrorists we capture or kill, who you in the media then attack us over -- well, to be honest, it's hard to know just how many are non-Iraqis. We do know that most are, but not to the detail to say if the number is growing or not.

Here's an idea. Why don't you take your sorry ass over there and ask them. You guys seem to think they are so great. See how they treat you.

Q Thank you. I have one question, but part of a Supreme Court question.


Q According to published reports, Mexican President Vicente Fox has failed to reform Mexico. Does President Bush believe any new Mexican President can stop the immigration problem between these two countries?

MR. McCLELLAN: In all honesty, no. But we play nice with Mexico, so we won't say that. But Fox is a weasel. But don't quote me.

Q Thank you. The Supreme Court -- I know you have answered a lot of the questions. But the decision banning the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse while allowing them in front of the Texas capitol seems contradictory. Do such decisions intensify the President's desire to appoint more conservatives to the high Court?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and again, there is no vacancy that I'm aware of at this point. And he's not looking to expand the size of the court and pack it with people to rubber-stamp his policies. The last president to try that was a Democrat. And he failed.

Anything else?

Q I've got a quick one. There was a report today that the administration is supporting plutonium production. Is this correct, and is that true?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, let me give you an update on that. First of all, this is a matter under the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy, and the plutonium that we're talking is non-weapons-grade plutonium. The Department of Energy is responsible for producing significant heat and electricity power systems that would require no maintenance in places like deep space. And plutonium-238, which we're talking about, is the substance that makes that feasible. Such power systems are used in support of deep space exploration missions and certain national security applications. But, again, we're not talking about any weapons-grade plutonium.

And I think the Department of Energy can probably talk to you more about why we need to produce it.

Now, if it was weapons-grade, we'd start with 30 Rockefeller Plaza, then 51 West 52nd Street, and so on.

Q Speaking of that, how's the Mars project coming along?

MR. McCLELLAN: Don't worry. We should be able to get all of you back to your home planets real soon. Now get the hell out of here.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you all.

END 2:38 P.M. EDT

Cross posted at Vince Aut Morire.


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