Q The President said yesterday, as you remember, that he and Republicans have a record to run on. With regard to Iraq, if you look at our recent poll, the public has in fact rendered judgment about that record. They think the war is a mistake. They trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle the situation in Iraq, and they don't think things are going to get better. So does the President have to answer for that record?If you were judge and jury, what say you on the President's Record?
MR. SNOW: The President will always -- people will have to answer for the records when voters render their judgments, of course. But on the other hand, one thing as you look at the poll data, people want to win the war. They do not want the -- and the President wants to win the war.
The President understands fully what public opinion is, but he also understands what his obligations are as Commander-in-Chief, and he's said that all along. If you allow the polls to dictate, you're not always going to do your job, and what the President is doing is leading as Commander-in-Chief. And he knows that some of these things are unpopular, but he also knows that they are the right things to do.
Q But is it a matter of unpopularity and people not -- because people don't understand the gravity of the mission, or is it that they have looked at his record of how he has conducted the war and disapproved of how he's done his job?
SECRETARY SNOW: I think -- we live in a nation of 300 million people, and there's no single characterization that's going to cover every opinion.
I think what you have also seen is a little bit of movement because people saw -- for instance, the death of Zarqawi, for a lot people, said, oh, wait a minute. That's an important victory. It's certainly not going to determine everything but it's an important victory.
I think for a long time, and this is worth pointing out, people's perceptions of the war have been shaped by car bombs and not by the actual efforts of men and women in the field. And David, I know you have gotten emails and everybody in this room has probably gotten emails at one time or another from people who have been in the theater who say, "I don't know what war they're covering, but it's different than the one I'm fighting in."
And it's very easy -- as a matter of fact, the document that Iraqi authorities released earlier today, where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said that using these images was a way of shaping opinion in the West, because it's a powerful image. And the President has said that he is not going to let terrorists dictate the terms of victory or defeat, or the definitions of each in Iraq. And when it comes to public opinion, I think it is perfectly understandable that seeing these horrific images day after day is going to make people say, please make it stop. And the President wants it to stop, but he wants it to end with a free, democratic Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself, protect itself, and serve as an ally in the war on terror.
Q Just one more on this, because you keep coming back to what seems to be kind of a facile explanation about car bombs obscuring real successes in Iraq. If that were the case, you wouldn't have had two governments fail, by the President's own admission. Isn't it a bit of a simplification to say that terrorists' car bombs are obscuring the real picture?
MR. SNOW: No, I don't. And I don't think it's facile, either --
Q You don't think that's a misrepresentation? After three years, Baghdad can't be secured yet?
MR. SNOW: No. The President has said all along -- what you're expecting is facile, which is a snap victory, things easy. It's not easy. This is a country where there have been factional disputes that go back a very long time. And people on the ground know that it's not easy. No, they're not facile at all in their approach to how they fight the war. I would also pose that to the people who are in theater. It's not a facile explanation. It's a true explanation: a car bomb is more vivid than getting an extra hundred kilowatts out of an electrical generation facility.
Q Well, since they haven't done that either --
MR. SNOW: There has been progress in those areas. So, the other thing is -- you talk about three failed governments. It has always been the aim of the United States to create a democratic government. This is a first. This is a first constitutional parliamentary-elected government. And you've heard repeatedly the President say, this is what we're aiming for. So give these guys a chance. They've been in office for two weeks; they've had a Defense and Interior Minister for one week. The President will be judged on this, absolutely right. But he's also -- and he's willing to take that judgment because he's doing what he thinks is right, David.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Tony Trapped: One Smart Reporter And a Facile Press Secretary
I love this interchange where one pool reporter eventually traps Tony the Snow-job in the political hucksterism that has become the GOP modus operandi and the political parlor tricks that have become the very hallmark of the W, Rove and Co: