White House press finally working a little bit

Barney Bush won’t talk about Karl Rove either

Scott McClellan has not had a very good time of it the last couple of days. Besieged with questions from the White House press corps over revelations that Karl Rove outed a CIA agent, McClellan has had to reach deep into his soul to find different ways not to say anything of substance. For instance today:

Q Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you’ve just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you’re parsing words, and you’ve been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn’t he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, I’m not at all. I told you and the President told you earlier today that we don’t want to prejudge the outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we’ve been round and round on this for two days now.

Q Even if it wasn’t a crime? You know, there are those who believe that even if Karl Rove was trying to debunk bogus information, as (Republican National Committee chairman)Ken Mehlman suggested yesterday — perhaps speaking on behalf of the White House — that when you’re dealing with a covert operative, that a senior official of the government should be darn well sure that that person is not undercover, is not covert, before speaking about them in any way, shape, or form. Does the President agree with that or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we’ve been round and round on this for a couple of days now. I don’t have anything to add to what I’ve said the previous two days.

Q That’s a different question, and it’s not round and round —

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier.

That’s the way it went for poor Scotty today and the last couple of days. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get out of bed does it?

Now I am sure all of those whose sympathies lie with President Bush and/or who don’t like the media see all the peppering by the White House press of questions as a disgrace or traitorous or whatever. You might even think of the White House press corps as sharks smelling blood in the water (can sharks smell?). I feel a little differently.

First of all, yes they are smelling blood in the water but it was only after Newsweek published a story that revealed an e-mail Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper sent to his editor saying that Rove had told him that Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife was a CIA agent. In other words, they only started asking questions after being hit in the head with this information. Where were all the questions from the press corps during the run-up to the war in Iraq, when the president said we were going in because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction?

If the press had done some digging back then we might not be at the point we are today. Joe Wilson might not have wrote his Op-Ed piece in The New York Times criticizing the Bush administration over WMD. Karl Rove wouldn’t have outed Wilson’s wife. Overzealous special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald would still be back in Chicago. Times reporter Judith Miller would not be sitting in federal prison for not naming a source. And just perhaps we would not have 1,750 U.S. men and women dead from the war in Iraq.

But no, I don’t think the White House press corps has been disgracefully picking on poor Scotty, or Turd Blossom, as the president calls Rove. They have just been doing their job. Finally.

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