Q Do you see a contradiction at all in the fact that when the Brits pull out, it's a success on the ground, that's why they're pulling out; when the Democrats call for U.S. troop pullout, it's, well, the job is not finished, they want to help al Qaeda.Okay, I can't resist - there's more fun in the Tony's briefing from Monday, and if you look closely enough, you can see him expose the W, Rove and Co for who they really are - dividers instead of uniters:
MR. SNOW: No. Maybe I didn't explain it clearly enough. The Brits were pulling out a small number of forces precisely because they were able to transition authority to the Iraqis and they had succeeded. This was not withdrawing on a time line; this was not saying, we're going to leave no matter what. The goal of the Brits is to win. And the goal in some of these resolutions is to leave. There is a difference.
Q Can I just follow one point about the Vice President's comments, because the President said again today he's not questioning the patriotism of those who disagree. But isn't it disingenuous to go out there and say that when you've got a Vice President saying that the Democrats are basically validating al Qaeda strategy?
MR. SNOW: No.
Q And at the same time you guys say you want an honest debate about this out there -- that's an honest part of the debate?
MR. SNOW: No, actually, it's a little surprising that -- number one, the President has made it clear that he doesn't impugn patriotism. What he impugned was an idea, a bad idea. And if in taking on a bad idea, somehow you suddenly get accused of being the bad guy, that's not a way of having an open debate, that's a way of shutting off debate and saying, we don't want to talk about this.
The fact is you do have to talk about what the consequences would be, David, if the United States -- that United States Congress --
Q But you argue this point as if there's no other consequence. In other words, you guys -- you -- the Vice President makes it seem as if there's only one alternative. And Democrats say, wait a minute, this is a failed strategy and they keep asserting what the alternative is, but they've made faulty claims before. So what I'm getting at is, this administration has consistently equated critics with supporting terrorists, even after they said they weren't going to do that anymore.
MR. SNOW: No, no --
Q And that's what the President -- that's what the Vice President is saying.
MR. SNOW: No, what you've just done is you've twisted it, and this, I think, is what some of the President's critics have also done. We're trying to be very careful here. Just because we disagree with you does not mean we don't think you're patriotic. Just because we think that an idea may have bad consequences and adverse consequences for American security, it does not mean that the people who are trying to come up with those ideas do not have the noblest of motives.
We think the ideas have bad consequences. And, furthermore, in this case -- again, I refer you back to the National Intelligence Estimate, and also the Baker-Hamilton commission, which came to precisely the same conclusion. This was framed in a way that was not designed to be ugly to Nancy Pelosi or anybody else -- and I must say that the personal insults tend to flow in the direction of the President and not from the President. We do not believe engaging in mud slinging and name calling toward other -- to people on either side of the aisle.
But it is important to understand, David, that as part of the robust debate about what happens, you do have to be honest about what you think the consequences of the other people's ideas are. And that's what the Vice President was doing, and I think I've pointed out a number of times now that it certainly has pretty distinguished support, both from the intelligence community and Baker-Hamilton.