Scott McLellan Versus Comical Ali
This White House press conference exchange (via Daily Kos) would be hilarious if it were not so bloody tragic:
Q Scott, is the insurgency in Iraq in its 'last throes'?And here's another less-than-frank exchange about the Downing Street Memo:
McCLELLAN: Terry, you have a desperate group of terrorists in Iraq that are doing everything they can to try to derail the transition to democracy. The Iraqi people have made it clear that they want a free and democratic and peaceful future. And that's why we're doing everything we can, along with other countries, to support the Iraqi people as they move forward....
Q But the insurgency is in its last throes?
McCLELLAN: The Vice President talked about that the other day -- you have a desperate group of terrorists who recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free Iraq will be a significant blow to their ambitions.
Q But they're killing more Americans, they're killing more Iraqis. That's the last throes?
McCLELLAN: Innocent -- I say innocent civilians. And it doesn't take a lot of people to cause mass damage when you're willing to strap a bomb onto yourself, get in a car and go and attack innocent civilians. That's the kind of people that we're dealing with. That's what I say when we're talking about a determined enemy.
Q Right. What is the evidence that the insurgency is in its last throes?
McCLELLAN: I think I just explained to you the desperation of terrorists and their tactics.
Q What's the evidence on the ground that it's being extinguished?
McCLELLAN: Terry, we're making great progress to defeat the terrorist and regime elements. You're seeing Iraqis now playing more of a role in addressing the security threats that they face. They're working side by side with our coalition forces. They're working on their own. There are a lot of special forces in Iraq that are taking the battle to the enemy in Iraq. And so this is a period when they are in a desperate mode.
Q Well, I'm just wondering what the metric is for measuring the defeat of the insurgency.
McCLELLAN: Well, you can go back and look at the Vice President's remarks. I think he talked about it.
Q Yes. Is there any idea how long a 'last throe' lasts for?
McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve....
Q Scott, on another topic, has the President or anyone else from the administration responded to the letter sent last month by Congressman John Conyers and signed by dozens of members of the House of Representatives, regarding the Downing Street memo? Has the President or anyone else responded?How do you sleep, Scotty Boy?
McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Why not?
McCLELLAN: Why not? Because I think that this is an individual who voted against the war in the first place [Conyers] and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus is not on the past. It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq.
These matters have been addressed, Elaine. I think you know that very well. The press --
Q Scott, 88 members of Congress signed that letter.
McCLELLAN: The press -- the press have covered it, as well.
Q But, Scott, don't they deserve the courtesy of a response back?
McCLELLAN: Again, this has been addressed….
Q Scott, on John Conyers, John Conyers is walking here with that letter again, as you have acknowledged from Elaine's comment. But 88 leaders on Capitol Hill signed that letter. Now, I understand what you're saying about him, but what about the other 88 who signed this letter, wanting information, answers to these five questions?
McCLELLAN: How did they vote on the war -- the decision to go to war in Iraq?
Q Well, you have two -- well, if that's the case, you have two Republicans who are looking for a timetable. How do you justify that?
McCLELLAN: I already talked about that.
Q I understand, but let's talk about this.
McCLELLAN: Like I said --
Q Well, just because -- I understand -- but if you're talking about unifying and asking for everyone to come together, why not answer, whether they wanted the war or not, answer a letter where John Conyers wrote to the President and then 88 congressional leaders signed? Why not answer that?
McCLELLAN: For the reasons I stated earlier. This is simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed.