Saturday, August 13, 2005

Words of, well, plenty of words

It was so much fun, let's do it again.

We had so much fun the last time we recapped a week with Scott McClellan, let's do it again.

The pickings are a little slimmer, because the President is on vacation again. Yes, a "working vacation," whatever the hell that is. For a guy who slams the French, he's certainly taken with their vacation policy.

[Ed. note: Apparently McClellan is on vacation too. Enjoy the guest apologists.]

8 August 2005
First up, Trent Duffy. DEPUTY Press Secretary Duffy to you, peon!

Senator Domenici will make the introduction. Secretary Bodman will be in the audience. Senator Bingaman will be there, as well. And Tom Hunter, who is the president and director of the lab will also be on the tour. Let's see, other congressmen -- Congressman Pearce from New Mexico will be in the audience, as well. That's all I have.

[Ed. note: That's plenty. We can smell that stink all the way up here in Chicago.]

Q You mentioned Mr. Garang. Does the U.S. have any suspicions that his death might not have been an accident?

MR. DUFFY: Not at this point. The United States has dispatched experts from the National Transportation Safety Board. They're on their way to southern Sudan to investigate the cause of the helicopter crash.

[Ed. note: Sudan VP Garang was killed in an helicopter crash. The NTSB is pretty sure it is due to standing out on the tarmac too long, and a spark in the fuel line caused the fatal attraction of a surface-to-air misslle.]

Q Scott, what's the -- Trent, sorry -- what's the agenda for Thursday, the National -- the Defense Secretary, Secretary of State foreign policy meeting?

MR. DUFFY: It's the President's annual meeting of his foreign policy team. They will review all the items on the President's foreign policy agenda.

[Ed. note: That is, they have to explain AGAIN why he can't smoke Cubans.]

If it's Tuesday, 9 August 2005, then it must be Al Hubbard (Director, Natl Economic Council) and Ben Bernanke (Chairman, Council of Economic Advisors).

[Ed. note: There was no attendance taken today.]

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Second, jobs. So far this year, we've had 191,000 jobs per month added to U.S. payrolls, almost 4 million jobs since the trough for the job market in May of 2003, so the labor market is improving and getting stronger.

[Ed. note: The uppity wage slaves are finally getting theirs.]

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: There certainly are risks to the economy; two I would mention. One is high energy prices. Energy prices remain very high.

[Ed. note: Saying it twice doesn't count.]

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Well, I mean, I'm an economist, I talk in statistics.

[Ed. note: At last! Someone in the Administration who admits they tell lies, damned lies, and statistics.]

Q Even as you listed all these positive economic indicators, polls show a majority of Americans still aren't feeling so great about the economy and don't give the administration a lot of credit for it. Why do you think there's a disconnect between the public perception about the economy and your perception, or your statistics?

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: Well, again, what's most important is how the economy is doing.

[Ed. note: Would someone get that reporter out of here!]

Q Can I stop you there? Ben said you guys deal with numbers. Can you give us some numbers on -- I mean, beyond just generalities?

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: To be perfectly honest, I do not have the numbers here with me.

[Ed. note: Did you notice that these guys never have anything concrete to back up anything they say? Seriously. They NEVER have it.]

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

[Ed. note: Could it be the ferocious locusts of Crawford drowning him out?]

DIRECTOR HUBBARD: I didn't hear the question.

[Ed. note: No, it's not the locusts.]

Wednesday, 10 August 2005 and we've got Trent Duffy, Deputy, back in the saddle.

MR. DUFFY: Good morning. The President's official schedule: he had his daily intelligence briefing. We're traveling now to Chicago, Illinois, where he will sign H.R. 3, the Transportation Equity Act.

[Ed. note: What did the good people of Chicago do to deserve this?]

MR. DUFFY: . . .We need good roads.

[Ed. note: We're hanging on every word, Duffy. What else do you have for us?]

MR. DUFFY: I don't know.

[Ed. note: Let me mull that over.]

Q Are they going to talk about -- what foreign policy subjects are they going to get into?

MR. DUFFY: I think they'll get into all of the ones that we know about. Obviously, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, of course -- we're making progress on the disengagement plan -- Lebanon. I don't want to leave any out, but, I mean, all the ones that you'd expect -- Iran, obviously.

[Ed. note: Are we breaking off an engagement with Lebanon? Why doesn't anyone tell me these things?]

It's Thursday, 11 August 2005. I had a hangover so I cribbed my notes from some of the guys there. First off, it appears that Natl Security Advisor Steve Hadley shot the breeze with the boys today.

MR. HADLEY: In terms of the Defense briefings, they briefed the President on some of the things they are doing to manage the personnel, military and civilian personnel, in the Department of Defense. . . .for example, with respect to the Army; converting some billets from military to civilian; improving the procedures for calling up Guard and Reserve -- things of that nature.

[Ed. note: Intriguing. How does one go about converting billets from military to civilian? I'll hang up and wait for my answer.]

MR. HADLEY: Well, one of the things -- deadlines have a very, sort of, useful forcing function to force people to compromise.

[Ed. note: That reminds me, when can we expect Rumsfeld to deliver his federally mandated report to Congress on the state of the Iraq War? You know, the one due on 11 July 2005?]

Q What did Karen Hughes have to say about public diplomacy? Did she have any new ideas, and how is she going to approach her job in the State Department?

MR. HADLEY: One thing she's done already is she's done a lot of listening and reading.

[Ed. note: Do we dare to ask what she is listening and reading to? And noody say "My Pet Goat!"]

Q Steve, before you leave, can you tell us about your meeting last Saturday with Mrs. Sheehan and what you told the President about it?

MR. HADLEY: Sure. Joe Hagin and I were pleased that Mrs. Sheehan met with us. We expressed our condolences to her and her family and our sympathy for her loss. . . . As you know, he's very sensitive to the -- the loss that is being sustained by families who have sons and daughters, husbands and wives who are being killed or injured in Iraq. He meets with -- he's met with families of over 200 of the fallen.

[Ed. note: So the President is sensitive to something, and he meets with somebody. Seems Hadley temporarily slipped into his "testifying before Senate" mode. To the best of my recollection Senator, I don't recall what I had for breakfast.]

And from Stephen Hadley and myself:
That's all I've got. Thanks a lot.

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