Again, I find myself really angry when Scotty boy suggest he can speak for all of America. That's not what he is paid to do, nor does he have a clue what the average American thinks about his clumsy and irresponsible handlers. These folks in the W, Rove and Co are sounding more and more like the spoiled children they are - you know, the kind that stomp off the court with their fancy new balls and say they aren't going to play with you anymore.
Q Scott, I just want to come back to this point about irresponsibility, because there seems to be --
MR. McCLELLAN: We're not talking about you.
Q Not today, anyway. (Laughter.) But this goes back to your predecessor, Ari, saying at one point that people need to watch what they say. And this seems to be kind of a continuing theme from this White House. A lot of people might say that it's bad for troop morale and irresponsible to say that American troops would be greeted with candies and flowers, when that didn't happen, or that there were weapons of mass destruction when there weren't any. In other words, the President seems to want to define the terms of the debate about a war that he knows is controversial, in no small part because of representations he made to the country --
MR. McCLELLAN: I reject that completely, and that's just complete distortion of what he said.
Q What's a distortion?
MR. McCLELLAN: You're ignoring exactly what he said. The President said that the American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it, and they know the difference between --
Q Then why does he have to prescribe what it is?
MR. McCLELLAN: So you're not letting me have an honest, open debate here. I welcome the opportunity to do this -- but they know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted -- we welcome that. In fact, the President has met with some of those honest critics. He met with a number of them just last week. And partisan critics who claim we acted in
Iraqbecause of oil, or that we acted because of , or that we acted based on misleading the American people -- Israel
Q Who has made that charge? Which Democrat in Congress has said he did it for oil or for
MR. McCLELLAN: He didn't single out members of Congress. He singled out people that --
Q -- elected officials responsible --
MR. McCLELLAN: We can point to --
Q Who are you talking about? Are you talking about Harry Belafonte and Sheryl Crow? Is he really worried about those people?
MR. McCLELLAN: We can point to a number of people. I think the Chairman of the Democratic Party has made numerous statements that are --
Q Who else is part of --
Q Why did he go in then?
MR. McCLELLAN: The Chairman of the party has made numerous irresponsible comments. We have confronted these issues head on, and we will continue to take them on. You might want to back us down from challenging people, but when they make irresponsible comments, we're going to challenge them.
Q You just said one of the irresponsible comments was that he doesn't have a strategy for victory, that people have made that comment and that they've been briefed on it. They might just not agree with the strategy for victory, or whether it is a strategy for victory.
MR. McCLELLAN: But they're implying to the American people that we don't have a strategy in place. And this is after they were -- just after they were briefed by our commanders on the ground who put that strategy in place.
Q So that's irresponsible to imply that they just don't like the strategy?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. I said that "we don't have a strategy" -- there's a difference.
Q -- semantics --
MR. McCLELLAN: No. People have made that point, said that we don't have a strategy in place for winning in
. That is irresponsible. Iraq
Q That's exactly my point, that they think it's not a strategy for winning.
MR. McCLELLAN: No. You know exactly what I'm talking about. I can go back and pull up comments that members of Congress -- certain Democratic leaders have made stating that we don't have a plan in place. And this is right after they were briefed by our commanders on the ground. So I reject that.
And I think -- I know sometimes in this room you want to focus on one portion of what the President said. We've taken on those who have made these comments directly. I'm not saying anything in the last couple of days; this speech was about much more than what the President was talking about. But because some are going out there trying to mischaracterize things and trying to imply things that just aren't true, we're going to make it clear to the American people that it's important to look at the facts. And that's what we're doing. We're confronting them with the facts.
And the facts are that members have been briefed about our strategy. We continue to brief members. The President has sat down with bipartisan members of Congress; the President has sat down with administration officials from previous administrations, some who did not agree with the decision, some who do not agree with everything we're doing in terms of moving forward on that strategy, and listened to their ideas. We welcome those ideas. That's honest critics. There's a difference between that and those who are trying to score quick political points based on irresponsible comments.
Q But it's not like they're denying they've been briefed, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q It's not like they're denying they've been briefed. They're leaving a clear --
MR. McCLELLAN: They are leaving a clear -- no, the instance you're talking about, they're leaving a clear impression with the American people that there is no strategy. And that's just absolute false. Again, we addressed this previously. I think that now people are backing off from that, because the President has engaged in a continuing dialogue with the American people spelling out very clearly what our strategy is. So I think since that time people are starting to back off that, that made those false charges.
Q Scott, nobody has made any of these kind of statements recently --
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you, John.
Q -- what's the purpose of the President saying it --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, John, let me clarify, if I wasn't clear. There have been comments made recently. I'm not saying in the last day or so, but this is part of what the President has been saying in each of the series of speeches he has been giving, and we'll continue to take those on if they engage in that. There are -- and there are some that continue to make them; I don't think that they've ever quit making them. And we will take those on.
END 12:57 P.M. EST