Scottie sent out to take the body blows
Editor and Publisher has snared some of today’s punishing press conference — plump little Scottie, the press-boob, was sent out to take the pummeling from the press for his boss, who subscribes to the motto “The buck never stops here.”
I wonder if they had to carry Scottie out on a stretcher after this one – yet another out-of-body experience for him, I’m sure. Like the glory days of the beatings he received at the Rove/Plame press conferences. Boy, doesn’t he wish he had Jeffy Lube was still sitting there (with his seemingly all-access daypass to be in the White House) to save Scottie with a softball question.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan had not had a full-length press briefing in Washington, D.C. for weeks, and after today, may have wished he had postponed this one. With almost unprecedented vigor, the press corps attacked and probe the federal response to the hurricane disaster, the president’s personal responsibility and failure to fire anyone who failed in his or her mission.
Q Scott, the reality at hand right now is that the President said that we still live in an unsettled world. This is an administration that has told us since 9/11 that it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” that we could be struck by a terror attack and, obviously, other disasters that are the result of Mother Nature. So at this point, where is the accountability? Is the President prepared to say where this White House, where this administration went wrong in its response to Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: You know, David, there are some that are interested in playing the blame game. The President is interested in solving problems and getting help to the people who need it. There will be a time —
Q Wait a minute. Is it a blame game when the President, himself, says that we remain at risk for either another catastrophe of this dimension, that’s not manmade, or a terrorist attack? Isn’t it incumbent upon this administration to immediately have accountability to find out what went wrong, when at any time this could happen again?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is a massive federal response effort that we have underway. We’ve got to stay focused on helping those who are in need right now and help them rebuild their lives and get back up on their feet. It’s a time of many challenges, enormous challenges. We’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand. That is what the President is doing.
…Q I just want to follow up on David’s questions on accountability. First, just to get you on the record, where does the buck stop in this administration?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President.
Q All right. So he will be held accountable as the head of the government for the federal response that he’s already acknowledged was inadequate and unacceptable?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President’s most important responsibility is the safety and security of the American people. He talks about that often. That is his most important responsibility. Again, there’s going to be plenty of time to look at the facts and determine what went wrong and what went right and how the coordination was between the state and federal and local authorities. Right now we’ve got to continue doing everything we can in support of the ongoing operational activities on the ground in the region to help people.
Q Well, the President has said that this government can do many things at once: It can fight the war on terror, it can do operations in Iraq, and aid and comfort people in Louisiana. Can it not also find time to begin to hold people accountable? It sounds, Scott, as if the line that you’re giving us — which is, you don’t want to answer questions about accountability because there’s too much busy work going on —
MR. McCLELLAN: Wrong. No, wrong.
Q — is a way of ducking accountability.
MR. McCLELLAN: You don’t want to take away from the efforts that are going on right now. And if you start getting into that now, you’re pulling people out that are helping with the ongoing response, Terry. Not at all. The President made it very clear, I’m going to lead this effort and we’re going to make sure we find out what the facts were and what went wrong and what went right. But you don’t want to divert resources away from an ongoing response to a major catastrophe. And this is a major catastrophe that we — and we must remain focused on saving lives and sustaining lives and planning for the long-term. And that’s what we’re doing.
Q And there are people in Louisiana and Mississippi who are doing that job very well. Your job is to answer the questions.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I have.
Q By saying you won’t answer.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, by saying that there’s a time to look at those issues, but now is not the time, Terry.
Kool-Aid, anyone? Weak brew today out of the White House. Here’s a pitcher of fun from The Heretik.
Hat tip Joe at AmericaBlog.