September 06, 2005

We don't know what they're putting in the water that the Washington press corps has been drinking.

But we sure hope they keep sticking it in.

At today's White House press briefing, reporters were staying on press secretary Scott McClellan's case like junkyard dogs chewing on an intruder. Here's part of what happened:

Q In view of the national crisis, will the President withdraw his proposal for this tax cut for the richest people in the country? And, also, my second question is, why did we turn down foreign help?

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I'm glad you brought that up. We have not. We have made very clear -- I made clear last week, the State Department made clear last week that we are going to take people up on their offers of assistance from foreign countries. There are some 94 nations and international organizations that have made offers of assistance -- whether that is cash support or I think water pumps from places like Germany or other areas. We said that if this can help alleviate things on the ground, we're going to take them up on their offers of assistance and we appreciate the compassion from the international community and their offers of assistance.

Q And how about my first question?

MR. McCLELLAN: Your first question?

Q Biggest tax cut, permanent tax cut for the richest people in the country -- in view of the national crisis, in view of the deficit --

MR. McCLELLAN: The highest priority for this administration right now is the ongoing response and recovery efforts --

Q No, no, I'm asking you a question.

MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm responding to your question. The highest priority right now for this government is the ongoing Katrina response and recovery efforts and helping the people who need the help. There are other priorities, too, and we'll be working to address those, as well.

Q Has he made up his mind about that, the tax code, changing the tax code?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he's made clear what his views are on other priorities.

Go ahead, Terry.

Q I just want to follow up on David's questions on accountability. First, just to get you on the record, where does the buck stop in this administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President.

Q All right. So he will be held accountable as the head of the government for the federal response that he's already acknowledged was inadequate and unacceptable?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President's most important responsibility is the safety and security of the American people. He talks about that often. That is his most important responsibility. Again, there's going to be plenty of time to look at the facts and determine what went wrong and what went right and how the coordination was between the state and federal and local authorities. Right now we've got to continue doing everything we can in support of the ongoing operational activities on the ground in the region to help people.

Q Well, the President has said that this government can do many things at once: It can fight the war on terror, it can do operations in Iraq, and aid and comfort people in Louisiana. Can it not also find time to begin to hold people accountable? It sounds, Scott, as if the line that you're giving us -- which is, you don't want to answer questions about accountability because there's too much busy work going on --

MR. McCLELLAN: Wrong. No, wrong.

Q -- is a way of ducking accountability.

MR. McCLELLAN: You don't want to take away from the efforts that are going on right now. And if you start getting into that now, you're pulling people out that are helping with the ongoing response, Terry. Not at all. The President made it very clear, I'm going to lead this effort and we're going to make sure we find out what the facts were and what went wrong and what went right. But you don't want to divert resources away from an ongoing response to a major catastrophe. And this is a major catastrophe that we -- and we must remain focused on saving lives and sustaining lives and planning for the long-term. And that's what we're doing.

Q And there are people in Louisiana and Mississippi who are doing that job very well. Your job is to answer the questions.

MR. McCLELLAN: And I have.

Q By saying you won't answer.

We hope this aggressiveness on the part of White House reporters isn't just a blip.

Posted by Magpie at September 6, 2005 06:37 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |
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