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Playing dodgeball with Tony Snow

snowmanAt the White House news briefing today, I got to watch Tony Snow dodge a series of questions about the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal. But then Helen Thomas took a shot.

The last time I went in, on January 12 of this year, I was the only person with my hand up that Tony wouldn’t call on (maybe because I made such a fool of him on my previous visit). It was just after Bush’s “surge” speech, and I was planning to ask this question:

A year and a half ago, the President said:

Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever.

Is his new strategy an admission that we will be in Iraq forever?

A pity I didn’t get to ask it. I suppose it’ll just have to be another installment in my very irregular series entitled “Questions the White House Would Rather Not Answer.”

Today, however, the professional journalists were too on the ball—they asked all my questions before I could get called on…

On the matter of why the White House won’t let Karl Rove et al. testify under oath about their roles in the U.S. Attorney firings, Tony came up with lame excuses, saying that such an arrangement would not “befit the dignity of the White House” (ha!), and that it would have “a feel of a trial” (exactly!). Then the CNN guy asked the next question on my list, which was, “Since it’s illegal to lie to Congress, wouldn’t not having a transcript make it difficult to prosecute anyone who did lie?” Tony answered, “I’m not a prosecutor, but I think you’ll find that plenty of prosecutors out there will tell you how to get a conviction without a transcript.” Sure. My theory is that their thinking was, “Hey, the one count Libby got off on, there was no transcript. So let’s avoid transcripts!”

Tony insisted that the administration’s proposal to Congress was an offer they couldn’t refuse:

“I think we’ve got a really good offer…Again, our offer is our offer…I didn’t say we were open to compromise. I said, we opened with a compromise…We’re not negotiating. This is our offer. This is our position.”

The funniest moment came when Helen Thomas asked Tony, “Is the White House dodging the oath because of the legal consequences?” Tony started out, “We’re dodging the oath because –” before he caught himself: “Well, I’m not going to say we’re dodging the oath, because that — (laughter.) Yes, I know, kaboom, steel trap closes. No, it’s — this is not a notion of dodging. It’s simply, we don’t think it’s appropriate.”

And Karl Rove would never lie to you. Really.

6 comments to Playing dodgeball with Tony Snow

  • JackD

    Eric,
    Does anyone really take Tony seriously or do the gathered newsies just enjoy the game?

  • Jack,

    They all manage to keep poker faces most of the time, so I really don’t know. I imagine it’d be hard to accept the fact that one’s very serious and important job as a White House reporter consists largely of playing charades and dodgeball with a brick wall. I think they live for those rare moments when Tony makes a mistake like that.

  • Gary

    Oh, E-ric! Your services have been requested over at TPMmuckraker:

    I am serious need of a flow chart of the lies. Something on one page that lists the scandal, who is involved and a list of the lies told. Something that can be emailed to everyone we know and to every local news outfit (print, tv and radio).

    Maybe we should work on this.

    Wonder what the FIRST LIE the bush admin told was? The Cheney Energy Task Force…

    Posted by: Robin
    Date: March 24, 2007 05:39 PM

  • DallasNE

    “Karl Rove would never lie” nails it Eric.

    Patrick Fitzgerald was no fool. He knew full well that his job was on the line if he would have had the Grand Jury indict Karl Rove. Instead he allowed Rove to correct his earlier false statements in exchange for no indictment. The jury that convicted Libby found fault with Fitzgerald, calling Libby a “fall guy”.

    I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand Fitzgerald came off as a coward, at least in hindsight. On the other hand, getting fired would have likely killed the case against Libby. Is it better to just get a conviction against the fall guy, who is likely to get a pardon, than no conviction at all. I narrowly come down on the side of Fitzgerald being a coward.

  • A man finds a snake in the “snow” and brings it back to his “cabinet” for warmth. When the snake heats up it bites him. The man asks: “Why did you bite me?” And the snake replies: “Do you mean that after Hurricane Katrina, the failure to build a 911 memorial, tortures in Abugrabe & Gitmo, the Alberto Gonzales political firings, the Patriot Act, Donald Rumsfeld, Illegal wire taps, the failure to support our wounded troops while in Walter Reed Medical Hospital, the Haliburton Scandal, and the unwarrented invasion of Iraq, that you haven’t realized that I was a snake? The question that you should be asking yourself is: Why Wouldn’t I Bite You by Saying I Have Cancer?”

  • CC, if your thesis is that the guy is lying about having cancer to gain some sort of advantage over the press, it’s a pretty stupid thesis.