Thursday, July 08, 2004

Today on Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Dang, I wish I could get my mitts on a transcript of Chimpy's little dust-up, but all I have is Scottie.

Still, there were some interesting Lay-related questions:

Q But this particular alleged corporate wrongdoer was a personal friend of the President's, who the President addressed as "Kenny, boy," who raised a lot of money for the President in the 2000 election cycle, who offered corporate jets to the President for travel in Texas. He did know him well. Does he --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you seem to want to be fairly selective there, because let me point out that he was someone who supported Democrats and Republicans, alike, including the President, as you pointed out.

Q Well, is that all the President had to say?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's how I would describe the relationship, and I think it's an accurate way to describe the relationship.

Q Does President Bush consider Ken Lay a personal friend? And did the White House have any communication with the Justice Department leading up to the indictment?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. This is a Justice Department matter, and we expect the Justice Department to do their job when it comes to cracking down on corporate wrongdoing. In terms of the question you asked about Mr. Lay, the President has already addressed that, and he described it the way I did, as well.

And what about Lay's role in Cheney's Energy Task Force? The questions say it all:

Q Scott, could you say whether Ken Lay had any input into formulation of a Bush energy policy?

Q Yes, I realize that. But wouldn't it be -- given the indictment now, wouldn't it be in the interest of assuring the public of the integrity of the process by which you came to the formulation of the policy --

Q Yes, I realize that, Scott. But wouldn't it be politically appropriate to at least indicate what advice, if any, Mr. Lay had given, given that --

No Gaggle Obsession would be complete without the Les Kinsolving question of the day (with a follow-up). Pull your head out and breath, Les, you're going to suffocate up there.

Q Scott, the RNC research has just quoted Senator Edwards on MSNBC as saying, "I think it's an enormous mistake to fly the Confederate flag. It ought to be taken down" -- which would ban the state flag of Mississippi and require removal of thousands of Confederate war memorials in front of courthouses all over the South. And my first question: Does the President believe that this should be done, or that Senator Edwards is wrong?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, Les, this is a campaign season. Certainly the records --

Q Does the President think --

MR. McCLELLAN: The records of the candidates are something that are perfectly legitimate to discuss. Their public statements are something that are perfectly legitimate to discuss. And changing positions are certainly things that are discussed during a campaign that voters look at, as well. There are clear choices in this election. This election is between the Senator from Massachusetts and the President of the United States, and their visions for the future. There are clear differences, there are clear philosophical differences. And we will continue to talk about those differences, and the President looks forward to a spirited discussion of the issues. And that's what he will continue to do.

As far as responding to past comments the candidates have made, I mean, those candidates need to explain themselves.

Q Does the President -- Senator Kerry has just announced that he believes that life begins at the instant of conception, just as he has expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage. And my question: Does the President believe that Senator Kerry's so often voting against his expressed convictions is a credibility gap similar to the contrast between those awful things Kerry said about Senator Edwards during the primary campaign and what he's saying now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think this issue has been discussed between the campaigns. It's been discussed. There are clear differences --

Q Yes, but your opinion --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that it's not the first time we've heard the Senator from Massachusetts say one thing one day and another thing the next.

Q Good. Good. Thank you.