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Another painful Scott McClellan ass-whooping

Tuesday, November 08, 2005



I'm reading the latest White House press briefing, and whipping boy Scott McClellan makes a poor attempt at weaseling out of several subjects. I don't want to waste space posting the lengthy, tortuous exchanges, but I think it's clear that he's close to a psychotic break. (Video is at C&L).

* No less than 16 times was the word "exemption" brought up in various questions in an attempt to get Scotty to answer whether the President's "we do not torture" policy jibes with Darth Cheney's contrary assertion that torture is good -- and that there should be an exemption in certain cases, like a little detainee thumb-screws intelligence gathering.

* We find out that Scott can't confirm whether the Chimp 1) has full confidence in Turdblossom, 2) thinks Rove lived up to the highest ethical standards, or 3) he should retain his security clearance, because there's an ongoing investigation.

* We learned more about the ethics classes being run out of Harriet's office. There will be eight hour-long sesions for all White House staff with a security clearance at any level. They began today, and are organized alphabetically by subject (?!). An intrepid reporter actually asked who would attend these whizbang classes, and guess what? There's no straight answer, except one can infer that torturemeister Dick Cheney doesn't have to sit in.
Q Scott, is anyone in the White House exempt from participating in these and --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, it's a mandatory session.

Q Would the Vice President have to attend?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's mandatory for all White House staff. That's who it's for.

Q And he's considered staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he's considered the Vice President. (Laughter.)

Q So he does not have to attend?
MR. McCLELLAN: All White House staff is required to participate in these sessions.
* Last, but not least, we gather that a pardon is not off the table for liar Scooter Libby, based on Scott's evasions. If Scooter knows he won't be pardoned, he's more likely to squeal, so the press corps is warning that Scotty's tushy is going to be ripped raw until they get an answer on the record.
Q Will the President pledge not to pardon Lewis Libby?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to discuss an ongoing legal proceeding, and I'm not going to --

Q Can you just --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not going to speculate about any matters relating to it. This is something that is just beginning. There will be a hearing process that is going on right now, and we need to let that legal proceeding continue. I was asked this question last week, and that's -- I'm just not going to speculate about things at this point.

Q So if he's interested in seeing the legal process continue, that means he will not pardon him, is that correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: There is a legal proceeding --

Q That would interrupt the legal proceeding.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is going on relating to that individual. Under our system, there is a presumption of innocence. And we're not going to comment on it while it is continuing. And I'm not going to -- certainly not going to speculate about it, as well.

Q Should we take that to mean it remains a possibility?
MR. McCLELLAN: It should mean exactly what I said.