Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Basis For Confidence" Makes White House Press Briefing

Editor and Publisher has the transcript of Tuesday's White House press briefing. All in all, it is vile and disgusting and shows Bush spokesman Scott McClellan in a very dark light. Throughout the exchange with reporters, who clearly were more untamed than in recent memory, McClellan is unwilling to identify any specific shortcoming in the response to hurricane Katrina and similarly refused to allow for any accountability. Most noteworthy for GuvWurld readers, Mr. Bush's confidence was questioned in a rather familiar way:
Q Does the President really believe we could respond to a terrorist attack with any -- amount of weeks, months?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've actually done a lot of exercises, David, to prepare for possible attacks, but --

Q Do you think most Americans agree, based on --

MR. McCLELLAN: But the most important thing we've got to do is focus on --

Q You mean exercises for Hurricane Katrina.

MR. McCLELLAN: We've got to focus on prevention, and that's what we're doing by staying on the offensive.

Q Well, let's talk about it. Are you saying the President is -- are you saying that the President is confident that his administration is prepared to adequately, confidently secure the American people in the event of a terrorist attack of a level that we have not seen? And based on what does he have that confidence?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and that's what he made clear earlier today, that obviously we want to look and learn lessons from a major catastrophe of this nature.

Q Yes, but you're telling us today there will be time for that somewhere down the road. Well, what if it happens tomorrow?

MR. McCLELLAN: We can engage in this blame-gaming going on and I think that's what you're getting --

Q No, no. That's a talking point, Scott, and I think most people who are watching this --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's a fact. I mean, some are wanting to engage in that, and we're going to remain focused --

Q I'm asking a direct question. Is he confident --

MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to remain focused on the people.

Q -- that he can secure the American people in the event of a major terrorist attack?

MR. McCLELLAN: We are securing the American people by staying on the offensive abroad and working to spread freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

Q That's a talking point. That's a talking point.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's a fact.
That is no more a fact than fiction is a fact. "Basis" is a wonderful word that has been at the heart of the GuvWurld blog since very early on. Note the Voter Confidence Resolution citing "no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections." That is the top line in this blog's masthead.

Two other quick observations about this press briefing.

McClellan repeatedly refers to wanting to understand "what went wrong and what went right." Mr. Bush and probably others have used this in the past several days and it is clearly an attempt to frame the perception of the response as having some successful elements. It is a good example of how the administration deftly reacts to a defensive situation with offensive language.

After all these years of tortured language creating Orwellian paradoxes that feed the great divide among the American people, I see this particular line as suspect: "we've got to make sure that there aren't rules in place that are preventing assistance from getting to those who have been displaced." McClellan said this was a point Mr. Bush had emphasized in a recent Cabinet meeting. Given that aid and assistance was flatly rejected in many instances over several days, it is clear that such prevention was intentional. I am not in the habit of publishing my predictions, but I'll say that I won't be surprised when we learn that in fact there were rules in place that prevented assistance from getting to those in need. To state exactly the opposite is part of the Bush administration modus operandi, successfully followed, and an example of what they mean by "what went right."



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