Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Monday, August 23, 2004

Wasn't hard to predict the White House would deflect from questions regarding Swift Boat Vets for Truth ad 

I hadn't seen this White House press gaggle that happened a few hours before I commented earlier today on the fact that the White House and Bush campaign refuses to condemn the false charges put out by Swift Boat Vets for Bush, but only says the President wouldn't make the charges himself, but condems the fact that they're made by a 527 group. Scott McClellan was asked 12 times (twelve times) whether the Presendent condemned the content of specific ads such as Kerry has done regarding MoveOn's ad about Bush's service. His answer to twelve pointed questions was to repeat the deflection that Bush doesn't like the fact that the claims are being issued by a group registered as a 527 and claim that that was an answer to the question.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has condemned -- well, first of all, the President has called on Senator Kerry to join him in calling for all of these ads and activity by these shadowy groups to stop, and he renewed that call today. The President has condemned all of these ads. And when he says he condemns them all, he means it. He wants Senator Kerry to join him in calling for a stop to all of these ads and activity.

Q But does he condemn the actual charge within the ad?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said --

Q Can I assume that, then?

MR. McCLELLAN: He condemns all of these ads --

Q So I can assume he condemns the content.

MR. McCLELLAN: Deb, he condemns all of these ads --

Q -- and the content?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me answer your question. The President condemns all of these ads. And he's been very clear in that. When he says he condemns all of the ads, he means all of the ads. And Senator Kerry should join us --

Q He's condemning the content of the ad, as well?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's calling for a stop to all of these ads. That's what he's -- he's renewed his call today to Senator Kerry: Join us in calling for a stop to all of these ads.

Q So let me just ask you --

MR. McCLELLAN: And activity by these unregulated soft-money groups.

Q You're not making a difference -- you're not distinguishing between the fact that they are 527s --

MR. McCLELLAN: I mean -- go ahead.

Q You're not separating, then, the fact that these are 527s getting unregulated money and the actual content of the ad, that Kerry might have fraudulently obtained his medals, he might have falsified records? You're lumping that all in. When he says he condemns them, he condemns everything.

MR. McCLELLAN: Senator Kerry wants to have it both ways. Let's call for an end to all of these ads by these shadowy groups that receive unregulated soft money. That's what the President has previously called on Senator Kerry to join us in doing, and we renew that call today. He should call for a stop to all of these ads. We thought we got rid of this when we signed -- when the President signed the campaign finance reforms into law. The President has been on the receiving end of more than $63 million in negative attacks from these shadowy groups, these 527s that exist. And that's why he believes that we should stop all of this activity that is going on by these unregulated -- soft money activity. And so I -- let's go and look at all that has happened over the last year, and all the negative attacks that have been aimed at the President, and all the false attacks that have been aired against the President out there.

Q So the content of all of them, he condemns that as well?

Q So can we assume that he's also denouncing the content of the ads?

MR. McCLELLAN: You've heard what he said -- he condemns all of the ads, Deb. He could not be more clear in saying that -- and when he says something, he means it. Senator Kerry can put an end to all of this by -- help put an end to all of this by joining us in calling for a stop to all of these ads. That's what he ought to do.

Q -- charge in the ad.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's what he ought to do. Why has the Kerry campaign been silent for more than a year, and then actually been fueling some of these very false and negative attacks that have been airing against the President of the United States for the last year?

Q But this one was against them.

MR. McCLELLAN: Right, they want to have it both ways. The President has been consistent from the very beginning. When he signed the campaign finance reforms into law, he thought he got rid of all of this activity and these ads. And he believes --

Q So you're condemning these ads, but not --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he believes we should get rid of all of this activity and ads by these shadowy groups.

Q But he's not denouncing the specific charge within the ads?

MR. McCLELLAN: How many times are you going to ask the same question, Deb?

Q You didn't answer.

MR. McCLELLAN: That is the answer: Senator Kerry should join us in calling for an end to all of this unregulated soft-money activity by these shadowy groups. And we call on Senator Kerry again today to join us in calling for a stop to all of these activities. The President condemns all of the ads. That's what he said, just again a minute ago, and that's what he has said previously.

Q Okay, so he would -- in terms of the question that I asked, he would discourage Republicans from supporting --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- we've never questioned Senator Kerry's service, and we won't. This race should be about the future. This race should be about how -- who is in the best position to lead the country, going forward, for the next four years. The President has a proven record of results, and he's laying out an agenda that builds upon that record of results. And we should be talking about how we lead and win the war on terrorism. We should be talking about how we -- the best way to create jobs and keep our economy moving forward. We should be talking about ways to reduce rising health care costs and make health care more affordable and accessible. That's what this election should be about, and instead you have Senator Kerry continuing to engage in false and negative attacks against the President of the United States.

Q Can I ask you a sort of unrelated question, which Dick wanted me to ask for another story?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I would remind you also, Deb, that the false and negative attacks being launched by the Kerry campaign have no basis in fact. They have presented no evidence. But there has been a revolving door between these Democratic front groups and the campaign strategist and the personnel and the strategies.

Q Okay, so you say these have no --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why we need to --

Q -- they're false and baseless, but are the Swift Boat ads false and baseless as well?

MR. McCLELLAN: Deb, this goes to your whole question. These ads are another example of the problem with these shadowy groups, and that receive unregulated soft money activity. And so the President condemns all of these ads. The President, as you heard him say again today, has called Senator Kerry's service "noble."

Q So Republican or Democrat, they're all false and baseless.

MR. McCLELLAN: We should condemn all of these ads, and put a stop to all these ads.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. McCLELLAN: No, what I was talking about was the claim that the Kerry campaign has now made, which is, all of a sudden -- I think his campaign, the other day, said that Senator Kerry had reached the boiling point. Well, reaching the boiling point shouldn't be excuse to launch into false and baseless attacks against the President. Yet they continue to do so.

Q Can I ask you a separate question about something else? Basically -- I don't know if you saw the University of Maryland poll that shows one in seven people think we went to war under false pretenses. That poll and others --

MR. McCLELLAN: Haven't seen the poll.

Q Ask the campaign. (Laughter.)

McClellan's as well as this White House's rhetoric are eerily easy to predict. Although we didn't anticipate that the 527 aspect of the deflection, on August 5 - the day after Senator McCain condemned the ad - an internet friend and I correctly predicted the White House's response to questions about the ad. Here is the transcript of the future press briefing we came up with:

Q: Senator McCain strongly spoke out against the group of veterans making inflammatory statements about John Kerry's service in Vietnam. What is the President's view of this group and the claims they are making?

McClellan: I think the President already answered questions about John Kerry's service. The President is proud of every soldier, sailor and airman who has served his country with honor.

Q: But the ad?

McClellan : The president wants to take the high road in this campaign, Helen, and he thinks the issues of this campaign are about America's future and ALL THESE INCREDIBLE THREATS that president Bush will SAVE US ALL from.

Q: I'm not asking about terrorism. I'm asking about the ad attacking Kerry and the group that is making these claims. Does the President -

McClellan: This is a issue that the President has already -

Question: This ad just emerged in the last few days. I'm asking what the President -

McClellan: I think it's important to remember that the American people agree with the President that intentions do not always translate into results, and this campaign will allow the voters to examine the President's record and compare it to Senator Kerry's.

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