Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Weasel-Palooza

I swear, it you sat down every day and read the daily White House press briefing as I do, you would think you were reading a Saturday Night Live sketch with Jon Lovitz as The Compulsive Liar.

Yeah, that's the ticket...

Press Secretary Scott McClellan put on a tour de force performance at yesterday's mislead-a-thon and I wanted to share more with you.

Here's a reporter asking a simple question: Of all the oil revenue Americans were told would help pay for the Iraq debacle, how much are we actually getting right now? Let's listen in on the hijinks.
Q: At the beginning of the war, we were told that Iraqi oil would help offset some of the costs to the American taxpayers, which didn't happen. But recently the Iraqi government has said that they will be pumping more oil next year. Could you tell me how much we're -- how much revenues we're receiving from Iraqi oil right now?

McClellan: Actually, it spells it out in the document that we released today. It talks about where we are in terms of the amount of oil being produced in Iraq, or where the Iraqi people are in terms of that. They're in control of that. They have a ministry that's in control of their energy sector.
Actually, no it doesn't, Scott. If you go here and read it like you keep urging the press corps to do, you'll see it talks only about oil production and doesn't say one word about money coming to the U.S. to help pay for the war.
Q: Does it give an amount?

McClellan: I'm sorry?

Q: Does it give a dollar amount of how much?

McClellan: Well, I'm not sure that it does that -- how much revenue is coming in?

Q: Yes, I'm wondering how much --

McClellan: It talks about how much is being produced now and --

Q: -- money is being paid to the U.S. to help offset our military --

McClellan: -- what the expectations are going forward.

Q: Could tell me how much we're getting now? Are we getting any money from the Iraqi --

McClellan: I didn't bring any of that information with me. I think you can probably direct that toward our civilian leaders in Iraq. They might be able to provide you that update. We also provide -- in fact, I know the Department of Defense and others -- we provide updated reports on a regular basis, that are available for people to go and look at on websites. So I can try to help you track down that information.

Q: But when you're doing the budget for early next year, you'll have to know how much money you're getting from Iraq.

McClellan: Well, we're in the process of doing the budget for next year right now. But in terms of that, I didn't bring that statistic with me. I'll be glad to try to help you track down that information.
Yeah, Scottie, I'm sure you'll get right on that.

Given what a huge deal the White House made over the concrete Iraq plans being announced by the president yesterday, you wouldn't think it would be difficult for them to link a basic success metric with a staged troop-withdrawal strategy. You wouldn't think so, but...
Q: Does the President think we have achieved short-term victory in Iraq?

McClellan: Well, if you look at what the short-term -- what it says in the short-term, it says we're -- it says, short-term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up Iraqi security forces.

Medium-term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security with a fully constitutional government in place and on its way to achieving its economic potential. The President believes that we're making real progress when it comes to achieving victory in Iraq and implementing our strategy. We are making progress on the political front, we're making progress on the economic front, and we're making progress on the security front.

Q: On this spectrum, are you willing to say that we have achieved short-term victory, medium-term victory -- any of those?

McClellan: I want to say we've made real progress on all three fronts of the strategy for victory.

Q And the second question is, how far along the spectrum do we have to get before U.S. troops can begin to come home? Does it have to be all the way to longer-term, which is peaceful, united, stable --

McClellan: Well, the President talked about what our goal is for completing the mission, and he talks about our mission in the document that you have before you, as well. I would encourage you to go and look at that. But what we're working to do is help train Iraqi security forces so that they're in position to be able to defend themselves and put in -- and help the Iraqi people put in place a lasting democracy with -- lasting institutions for a democracy to fully emerge. And that's how we're looking at succeeding in Iraq.

Q: But he said today that he would settle for nothing less than complete victory.

McClellan: That's right.

Q: Does that mean that nothing less than complete victory is needed before U.S. troops can begin --

McClellan: No, absolutely not. In fact, I think he talked about as conditions change on the ground, and as we make progress on these different fronts, then our posture will change, as well -- our posture from a military standpoint and from a civilian standpoint.
The clock is ticking on how long before a reporter just loses it, charges up and slaps the hell out of this guy.