And no, I’m not fooling, but I do apologize in advance for asking a question that I knew would merely trigger one of Scott McClellan’s rote little speeches. But I couldn’t help it. I was so stirred by the report that came out yesterday from Bush’s Presidential Commission to Blame Everyone But the White House for the Sexed-Up Intelligence on Iraqi WMDs, that the question wouldn’t be denied.
Anyway, it was a quiet Friday afternoon in the half-full briefing room. I’d come in that morning for the very brief gaggle, during which there were a couple of good questions about Bush’s response to Tom Delay’s threat against the judges that ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo. Scott’s answer was that the President supported the ‘culture of life,’ though, when pressed a little harder, he did admit that, yes, Americans should “follow laws” and “adhere to rulings of courts.” That was reassuring. During the break before the scheduled 12:30 briefing, I strolled around Lafayette Square, enjoying a beautiful Washington spring day. Back in the White House, the televised briefing began with four or five questions related to the Pope’s precarious health and one from Helen Thomas, who asked whether the President was unhappy about being misled by the CIA about Iraqi WMDs (wink wink). I finally got my chance near the end. I said (with a very shaky voice, I’m afraid):
“Going back to the report on botched WMD intelligence, have the massive intelligence failures documented in the report caused the President to rethink his policy of preventive war?”
This launched Scott into his “9/11 changed everything” speech, though I did get to say a couple of more things designed to make him have to defend an invasion whose putative justification was based on false intelligence. After he had resorted to his “Saddam was a bad guy” bit, I was hoping to end by asking, “So, we can look forward to more wars like this one?” but he had moved on to someone else.
One other notable exchange was on the question of whether or not the Social Security Trust Fund actually exists. Scott was quite blithe about admitting that the federal government’s IOUs are absolutely worthless.
The full transcript is here.