Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 19, 2006
WAR: Your Daily Dose of Helen Thomas

From Tony Snow's latest press briefing:

Helen. Q The United States is not that helpless. It could have stopped the bombardment of Lebanon. We have that much control with the Israelis.

MR. SNOW: I don't think so, Helen.
Q We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine.
MR. SNOW: What's interesting, Helen --
Q And this is what's happening, and that's the perception of the United States.
MR. SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view, but I would encourage you --
Q Nobody is accepting your explanation. What is restraint, a call for restraint?
MR. SNOW: Well, I'll tell you, what's interesting, Helen, is people have. The G8 was completely united on this. And as you know, when it comes to issues of --

Q And we stopped a cease-fire -- why?
MR. SNOW: We didn't stop a cease-fire. I'll tell you what --
Q We vetoed --
MR. SNOW: We didn't even veto. Please get your facts right. What happened was that the G8 countries made a pretty clear determination that the guilty party here was Hezbollah. You cannot have a cease-fire when you've got the leader of Hezbollah going on his television saying that he perceives total war -- he's declaring total war. When they are firing rockets indiscriminately --

Q We had the United Nations --
MR. SNOW: Please let me finish. I know this is great entertainment, but I want to finish the answer. The point here is they're firing rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas. The Israelis are responding as they see fit. You will note the countries that disagree with the --

Q -- bombardment of a whole country --
MR. SNOW: -- that disagree with the government of Israel in terms of its general approach on Palestine, many of our European allies agree that Israel has the right to defend itself, that the government of Lebanon has the right to control all its territory, that Hezbollah is responsible and that those who support it also bear responsibility. There is no daylight between the United States and all the allies on this. They all agreed on it. This was not difficult --

Q At that point, why did we veto a cease-fire?
MR. SNOW: We didn't veto a cease-fire.
Q Yes, we did.
MR. SNOW: No, we didn't. There was -- there was no cease-fire. I'm sorry --
Q Wasn't there a resolution?
Q At the U.N.?
MR. SNOW: No -- no. You know what you've -- I see what you -- what happened was that there was conversation about "a cease-fire" that was picked up by some of the microphones when some colorful language made its way into the airwaves yesterday. And the President was continuing a conversation he'd had earlier with Prime Minister Tony Blair about staging. Would we like a cease-fire? You bet, absolutely. We would love to see a cease-fire. But the way you stage is that you make sure that the people who started this fight -- Hezbollah -- take their responsibility --

Q There was no veto at the U.N.?
MR. SNOW: No, there hasn't been a resolution at the VN -- U.N., whatever it is. (Laughter.) There hasn't been -- I was in Germany too long. There's been no resolution at the U.N.

Q Why aren't we proposing a truce, no matter who is to blame? At least stop the killing.
MR. SNOW: Because it wouldn't stop the killing. What it would do is it would say to the killers, you win.
Q Might save lives.
MR. SNOW: No, I don't think so. And I'm glad you raised this. You do not want to engage in a cease-fire that has a practical -- when you say to the Israelis, you guys just stop firing, when you have Hezbollah saying, we're going to wage total war, because Hezbollah would read that as vindication of its tactics, and the idea that if you get the right sort of videos on television, and you get the right things going on, you can allow them to behave with impunity. Even though they are weakening the sovereign government of Lebanon, they are acting independently; even though they have --

Q And bombarding Lebanon --
MR. SNOW: Even though they have received --
Q -- wipes out infrastructure.
MR. SNOW: All right, this is hectoring now.

I think Snow, to his credit, has figured out that if he's nice to the people who are there to gather news, he can get away with being (justifiably) nasty to people who aren't. I continue to think that press secretary briefings are a waste of time, but if they are going to serve a purpose, that purpose is to frame questions the press wants answered and let the press secretary explain the Administration's answer. No purpose is served by having a reporter engage in a "did not"/"did too!" exchange that merely highlights the reporter's own opinions.

You would think they would revoke Thomas' press credentials, but like Castro, we seem to have resigned ourselves to waiting for her to die rather than do anything about her.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:03 AM | War 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

I agree that the breifing are a waste, but it is noce to see someone like Tony take them on. That room is so over matched. Makes for good comic relief.

Posted by: maddirishman at July 19, 2006 12:10 PM

I thought this passage was priceless:

Q Why aren't we proposing a truce, no matter who is to blame? At least stop the killing.

MR. SNOW: Because it wouldn't stop the killing.

Posted by: Henry at July 19, 2006 1:04 PM

As a middle of the roader, with some liberal leanings, I must state the press conference was a disgrace. Tony Snow aquitted himself admirably. The so called questions were, in far too many cases, statements with a dangling participle. Sort of the, "So you have now stopped beating your wife..." type.

A press conference is supposed to be for the press to ask questions, and any tough question is, to me, fair game. You want to ask say, if Dick Cheney is on the take at Haliburton (as long as you have a basis for it), then fine. However, if you frame it as, "Since Dick Cheney is on the take with Haliburton, and you support that..." which is what these so called questions were, that is not right. And shame on the press for not doing their job.

Besides, you know when the Israelis are about to win, when Hesbollah, Syria and/or Iran suddenly demands international intervention. And probably when they bomb a bunch of kids and blame the Israelis.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 19, 2006 3:18 PM
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