Note, the questions bleed into another reporter trying to figure out the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate. In my mind there is a big difference between high quality debate and the kind of remarks that prater back and forth about who is the bigger idiot. Indeed, just because the administration finds someone's remarks embarrassing because it points out flaws in the W, Rove and Co doesn't make them irresponsible. In fact, such statements are highly patriotic.
Q On Iraq, the President said today we were going to have complete victory. And in view of the daily attrition, people dying -- Iraqis, Americans -- every day in Iraq, has he weighed the human cost and is he willing to go to the end at any price?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and I think that the Iraqi people have demonstrated that they want to live in freedom, that they want to chart their own future. Where our focus is right now, Helen, is on continuing to move forward and support the Iraqi people as they work to form a new government. That's why the President talked about the importance of building a government that is inclusive and representative of all Iraqis -- a government of national unity, as he talked about it. He talked about that in detail in his remarks. In terms of the sacrifices that have been made, we mourn the loss of our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed, but it's for an important cause --
Q But he's going to have another year of sacrifice.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- the terrorists, I think you have seen, clearly understand how high the stakes are in Iraq. What Iraq will be is an example to the rest of the broader Middle East, which has been a troubled region when it comes to freedom. They will be an example when it comes to freedom --
Q Do you think other Arab countries are going to welcome an invasion by America?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- they will be an example when it comes to freedom. When it comes to freedom, Iraq will serve as an example. And by advancing freedom in the broader Middle East, we are laying the foundations of peace for generations to come. And that's what the President talked about in his remarks.
Q Is there any Arab country who would want America to come in --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are steps that have been taken by countries across the broader Middle East, with the exception of primarily two.
Q The President said there is a difference between responsible critics and irresponsible critics. Who is being irresponsible? Who is he talking about?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I think the statements by some are very clear, in terms of the irresponsible statements --
Q Is he talking about Senate Democrats?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that they made. We've been through this before in this room, and that's what -- the point the President was making. I think we very clearly spelled out some of the irresponsible statements that have been made in the past. What's important is that we all focus on working together to succeed in Iraq, because a free Iraq will be a major blow to the ambitions of the terrorists, and be a major victory in the broader global war on terrorism.
Q Were Congressman Murtha's comments responsible?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've already addressed that issue. And General Pace addressed some of his more recent remarks, about the message that sends to our troops. And I would leave it with what General Pace said.
Q Can you -- would the President believe those are irresponsible remarks? Does that hurt the morale of the troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: We've already been through those remarks. But withdrawal is the wrong message to send to the enemy, to our troops, and to others. And that's why the President has made it clear that success in Iraq is critical to our efforts in the war on terrorism. That's why we have a strategy for victory. And we're moving forward on all three elements of that strategy -- supporting the Iraqi people as they build a democratic and peaceful country.
Q He's also talked about timetables giving the message to the enemy that you don't want to give, and conditions-based timetables.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right.
Q And yet today, he said by spring there will be a few thousand fewer troops; by the end next year --
MR. McCLELLAN: If conditions on the ground permit.
Q Exactly, if conditions on the ground permit. But that's still, in a sense, a timetable. That's still letting the adversaries say --
- Wait, There is more -
MR. McCLELLAN: I thought it was going to be about my mother. (Laughter.)
Q In general, it seems like this administration's definition of the irresponsible comment on the war is people who disagree with it. Can --
MR. McCLELLAN: No --
Q -- you point to an example of someone who disagrees, but does it in the proper --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, the President has pointed to examples in the past, and we pointed to examples --
MR. McCLELLAN: He talked about some of those who are protesting the wars who have long held a view that we shouldn't have made the decision to go into
. And he respects their disagreement. But he disagrees strongly with their view, and he has specifically talked about that in remarks. Iraq
Q Is anyone who talks about withdrawal talking irresponsibly?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Is anybody who --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I wouldn't characterize it that way. But we have said that withdrawal sends the wrong message.
Q So it's irresponsible to talk about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that. You have to look at each time we have said people have made irresponsible comments. There are some that have made irresponsible comments suggesting that we don't have a strategy in place for winning in
. And they have been briefed on that very strategy. We've talked about that in the past. Iraq
Q Can I just follow on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go to