Thursday, September 22, 2005

Scotty Must be Befuddled

As the Prez does another jaunt to Texas (will he be stopping by Crawford to relax this time around, I doubt it), Scotty McMessage McClellan must be getting befuddled by all the questions. He is - intentional or not - starting to mix up his Rovian message and indicating that they want to find out what went wrong first rather than what went right.

If you didn't have the chance to tune into the whitehouse press conference live today, there is a text version with all the fun and gory details:
Q Right, but the President has the ability to -- under the Insurrection Act, to --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q -- to make the military a part of the law enforcement operation. He can do that --

MR. McCLELLAN: There are a host of legal issues involved.

Q There are, indeed. But are you suggesting that he would like to find some other way to get them actively involved in law enforcement under special circumstances?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying that these are issues that need to be looked at as we look at the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. We need to look back, and we have been, at what went wrong and what went right,(italics and bold added) and then do a lessons learned review.

Q That's what he's looking at, then, some way to give them the authority to conduct the security operations.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's one of the issues that we need to look at, is the role of the military, because there is a -- there are responsibilities at all levels of government when it comes to responding to hurricanes. Typically, the first responders are the state and local first responders, and the federal government's role is to assist those first responders. But there are some unique challenges that Katrina exposed that we need to look at and we need to do a better job of in the future in terms of responding to.

Q So you're saying that he'd like to look at the question of whether the military should be involved in law enforcement?

MR. McCLELLAN: He indicated that last week. Q How is it going to help the people of Texas practically prepare for this storm that the President is going to fly in to take a firsthand look at preparations and show support for first responders? How is that going to practically help them do what they have to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we're going to have as minimal a footprint as possible. We're not going to get in the way of the ongoing preparations that are going on. We go out of our way when we travel to make sure that that doesn't happen. The President wants to go in there and be able to thank all those first responders as they are gearing up for the challenges that will be coming shortly thereafter. That's why we're going there first, for a short amount of time, and then going on to Colorado. And it will also give him a chance to see firsthand some of the preparations that are underway on the ground.

Q But it sounds like a bit of a photo op, one that he'd prefer over playing the guitar at the airport photo op before Katrina.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let's correct the record on that. There was a reporter from your news organization that was backstage during that event. That was an event to go and thank our troops and talk about the war on terrorism. And it was not an event, as you may have portrayed to some people that are watching this out there by this simple statement. It was --

Q He didn't pick up the guitar while the hurricane was rolling into Louisiana? MR.

McCLELLAN: -- much more than that. The person that was entertaining our troops there presented a gift to the President. So I think you need to make that clear to everybody who's watching this or to your viewers. And it was one of your colleagues at ABC News who was backstage taking a picture of that.

Q It was a very good picture and I'm proud of her, but the question I have --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but that picture was taken by someone -- hang on, hang on, Terry -- that picture was taken by some people way out of context. And it was portrayed that the President was simply doing that, and that's not the case, as you and I know.

Q The point was that he was over there and not --

MR. McCLELLAN: As you and I know, I had announced shortly before that, that we were returning the next morning. As you and I know, we had announced the President -- the day before -- all the briefings he was participating in. The President spoke the day before. He spoke that day about the hurricane. So let's just set the record straight.

Q Fair enough.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's unfair.

Q So the trip to Texas to take a look at the preparations and show support for the first responders is not a photo op?
The last half of this reparte is interesting. Really, there is no reason, other than political, for the president to fly down to Texas in advance of Rita. He's not a "first responder." By the way, as the W, Rove and Co has proven time and again, no where is it written that it has to be fair.

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