Tony Snow appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources yesterday. Just a few choice passages:
On David Gregory quoting the ISG Report: "He used words that were in the report, but actually did not quote from the report."
Hooo-kay. I'm sure that distinction is key to Snow, even if it's nonsense to the rest of us. You can judge for yourself whether Gregory characterized the report inaccurately:
From the press briefing:
GREGORY: The co-chairs say the following: "'Stay the course' is no longer viable." "The current approach is not working." "The situation is grave and deteriorating."
From the ISG Report:
Page 6 (the first sentence of the report):
The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.
2. Staying the Course: Current U.S. policy is not working, as the level of violence in Iraq is rising and the government is not advancing national reconciliation. Making no changes in policy would simply delay the day of reckoning at a high cost. Nearly 100 Americans are dying every month. The United States is spending $2 billion a week. Our ability to respond to other international crises is constrained. A majority of the American people are soured on the war. This level of expense is not sustainable over an extended period, especially when progress is not being made. The longer the United States remains in Iraq without progress, the more resentment will grow among Iraqis who believe they are subjects of a repressive American occupation. As one U.S. official said to us, “Our leaving would make it worse. . . . The current approach without modification will not make it better.”
On whether it was inaccurate or unfair for Gregory to ask whether the report was a "rejection of the president's handling of the war" :
HOWARD KURTZ: [I]n fact, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune called it a "rebuke of the administration policy" and the "Wall Street Journal" called it a "searing critique."
TONY SNOW: Is it "searing critique" that this report says at the beginning of its own segment on actions forward... that it says, and I quote, and this was not something I was asked about, "We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq as stated by the president."
KURTZ: The goal.
SNOW: "An Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself."
KURTZ: They also said the policy is not working.
SNOW: No, what they said is that you need a new policy.
Surprisingly, Kurtz did not do a spit take after this semantic triple axel. Also, refer to the ISG passage above, especially the "the policy is not working" part.
On whether the media is unfairly characterizing us as "losing the war": SNOW: ...the idea that you sort of do a snapshot of win/lose, rather than taking a look at broader metrics or broader things that are going on. To give you an example--
KURTZ: It was the president's nominee, Roberts Gates, for defense secretary who said, "We're not winning"
SNOW: Well, he also said we're not losing. And Pete Chiarelli, who's the general on the ground, said we are winning militarily.
I feel better already.
KURTZ: The day after the election, when Rumsfeld was out, the president said, "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of the campaign."
KURTZ: You were asked about this as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COMPTON (ABC): Why isn't it less than straightforward to say a week before the election that Secretary Rumsfeld would stay through the remainder of the administration when the president knew that wasn't the case?
SNOW: Well, he didn't "know" it was the case because he didn't have a suitable -- what he considered a suitable replacement, and hadn't had the final conversations with Don Rumsfeld.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: You talked about there'd been no final decision and no suitable replacement had been found.
KURTZ: But, can you now acknowledge that the president wanted to duck it and he gave a misleading answer?
SNOW: No. I'm not going to get into characterizing it.
I will. Bush said at the press conference,"And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer." That is the textbook definition of "ducking and misleading."
KURTZ: After the [Foley] scandal broke, you did an interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien... Soledad O'Brien asked you, "Does the president and does the administration stand by Representative Hastert has far as he has led so far on this issue?"
KURTZ: And you said, "Again, we have to find out what's going on here. You're trying to create problems. What you are trying to do is pick fights here." It seems to be a recurring theme when journalists press you. You kind of accuse them of being troublemakers.
SNOW: No, I don't think so. I think that that was a fair characterization of what was going on.
KURTZ: But here's the question: "Do you stand by what Representative Hastert has done?"
KURTZ: How was that picking a fight?
SNOW: No, and then it's, you know, "do you, does the president," and the fact is, it's trying to get the president to render judgment on internal deliberations within the House office, where the president is, as is the normal course of business, is not going to be privy to the internal deliberations in the House office. The House of Representatives and members of Congress are very jealous of their prerogatives, as they ought to be, and what they say is, "White House, thank you very much, but butt out." So, therefore, to be called upon to render judgment on something that, under no circumstance, would we be privy is sort of an attempt to provoke.
This answer appears to have been formed from a random assortment of Refrigerator Poetry magnets. If our civilization is destroyed, and centuries from now aliens come to Earth and find this paragraph, they will conclude, "Ah, so they were only just beginning to form a rudimentary language."
Besides, no one gets in Soledad's lovely grill if I have anything to say about it.
KURTZ: Listen to this quote: "President Bush hates responding to the press, hates responding to political enemies. He thinks it's beneath him. He's got a stubborn streak." Who said that?
SNOW: I don't know.
KURTZ: You did, last March on Fox News.
SNOW: Did I? Yes, OK
KURTZ: Does he hate responding to the press?
SNOW: No... he actually likes it.