Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Seventh Seal Breaks! Scoty McC' gives a direct answer!

And the Seventh Seal Broke, and the Weasel that spoke as a man, was given a query, and directly he answerth

-Hallucinations 35:17

Friends, these truly are strange and scary times we live in. All that we could rely on, all that was familiar and safe now seems strange. . It seems scarcely possible, but yesterday, in the WH briefing room , after intense questioning from a Press Corps reporter (yes I know I'm stretching the bounds of credulity here), something incredible happened:

Scotty "the Stoat" McClellan actually answered a question

And bizarre as this sounds here is the transcript to prove it.

Now lest you be too scared, it should be noted that this reluctant proffer of information occurred only after a suitably epic battle. A brave reporter had to go Mano-a-Weaselo for several rounds with Scotty until he broke.

It started simply as all such epic duels tend to :

Q Scott, can we get a clear "yes" or "no" answer on whether the President agrees on the Vice President's assessment that the insurgency is in "its last throes?" Is it a "yes" or "no"

Ol' pro that he is Scotty threw his heater
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I already answered this question the last couple of days.

Well, No; actually, despite Terry Moran's nigh heroic efforts to get you to do so.
On page one of the BushCo public relations manual, there must be a sentence which reads:

"Anytime you wish to avoid answering an embarrassing or inconvenient question, simply claim you've already answered it at a vague unspecified time in the past

and the Damnable thing is, most of the time, it seems to work for them. No one ever seems to ask the obvious follow-up:

"well if you've already answered this question in the past , I'm sure you wouldn't mind repeating the answer now"

Because if there is one thing that Scotty has proven, its that he is perfectly happy repeating himself, over and over and over again

This time though, Scotty's brushback pitch failed completely. Our Hero had eaten his Wheaties that morning and wasn't to be denied:

Q Is it "yes" or is it "no"?
Scotty lets make it easy for you, the question is Multiple Choice, there two choices, both are Polar opposites of each other, and they one syllable each. So which it is Y-e-s or N-o?

{ Surgeon generals Warning: those whole believe that language is a vehicle for the rational expression of logical organized thought should avoid the next response }

Scotty, of course, tried to answer it as an essay question:

MR. McCLELLAN: And I've talked about it the last couple of days. If you look -- if you look at the terrorists and the regime elements that are seeking to derail the transition to democracy, they are in a desperate mode, and here's why. Let me walk you through this.

{ Oh please Scotty, for the love of God don't!}

First of all, I think, to begin with, you ought to go back and look back at the full context of the Vice President's remarks, where he talked about the progress we're making to go after and capture al Qaeda elements that are inside Iraq -- like Zarqawi lieutenants. Just last week, we captured one of his top lieutenants, a very dangerous man who is responsible for the killing of a lot of innocent civilians inside Iraq. This was the person who oversaw Zarqawi's Mosul operations. And that was a significant development.

So I think you have to look at the facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground show that the Iraqi people are making important progress on the political front to build a free and democratic future. The vision of the terrorists is one of chaos and destruction. They really have no vision. Their only alternative is chaos and destruction and the killing of innocent civilians.

And that's what I talked about yesterday. They, every step of the way, have not been able to stop the progress that the Iraqi people are making on the political front. And they are being defeated and they will be defeated.

Didja see a yes or no In the above sentence? Anywhere? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Note there is of talk about how Good and Right will eventually triumph; but very little discussion on Throes per se, and how we know which throe exactly this is, and how many throes might remain in the hopper...

So our brave and Quixotic reporter tried one more time:

Q So that's a "yes"?

and then something remarkable happened. Slitherin' Scotty finally ran out of wiggle room and had to actually commit to a concrete position:

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said that. I said that the other day.

No, actually you didn't, what you said the other day when terry Moran tried to pin you down was was:

"MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve. "

Its really just not the same thing.

But lets not lose sight of the momentous thing that occured in that exchange. For the first time in 5+ years of daily briefings, a substantive question was asked and actually answered! It wasn't easy, but a reporter who kept following up, and refused to give up achieved an actual break in the WH's famed Wall of Obfuscation!

Frankly I'm as shocked as you are. Now let's not be nitpicky and point out that the answer was utterly wrong; a least a wrong answer is still an answer, and this being one of his very first, Scottie's not had a lot of practice with them.

By itself its not that remarkable achievement. But as a symptom of a larger movement, its a very comforting development.

Ever since The Great Reporter Uprising of '05 that began when Scotty tried to use Newsweek as a whipping boy for printing a true story, the Press seems to have found its long lost courage and professionalism.

TO be sure its happening in fits and starts, but it IS happening. Slowly reporters are learning that if they ask hard questions, lightning bolts will NOT in fact smite them from the heavens; and they are allowed to point out when Scotty doesn't actually answer their question.

They've also learned the techniques of following up on each other's questions, and even coming prepared to the briefings, and having source materials ready, to contradict Scotty when he starts straying from the truth. The rest of this transcript is a heartening read with a few absolute gems studded inside (such as the question that was already diarized about whether any part of the Bush clan is currently in the service)

Poor Scotty's is not taking this change well at all. He looks about as comfortable at the podium as a gazelle does in a nature documentary. His non answers, once almost koan like in the utter impenetrability and zen-like calmness, are taking on an increasingly delusional and desperate tone.

Check out this remarkable reality denying exercise from the same briefing

Q Scott, on Guantanamo and Africa -- President Bush's new friend, Bill Clinton, has said that Guantanamo needs to be cleaned up or closed. What are your thoughts about that, as you're saying that the allegations have been looked into?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm not sure specifically what he's referring to.

{I mean God, we've done So many things there, its really hard to keep track, you'll have to be specific, which horrific acts you're talking about}

Q He's referring to the abuse and the problems at Guantanamo Bay.

MR. McCLELLAN: And what abuse are you referring to? { like I said specificity here, The beatings, the Koran desecration, the sexual Humilation, the homicides, What?}

Q The abuse of the prisoners, the fact that the prisoners, some of them -- you still have, what is it, 500 --

MR. McCLELLAN: So you can't point to anything specifically.{ I mean otherwise we'll be here all day}

Q There's a whole bunch of things you can point to and I'm trying to --

MR. McCLELLAN: A whole -- no, April, that's not correct, because let me tell you about the ways detainees are treated at Guantanamo Bay. They are treated humanely, and that has always been the policy at Guantanamo Bay. { and for some reason I feel compelled to add, We've always been at war with Oceania}

Eseentially scotty was trying to say with a straight face:

"You Haff no Evidence because I haff decreed there is none. Please do be ignoring the Amnesty International Report, The pentagon's own internal reports , and the FBI's private emails on this subject, they are all wrong because I haff said so!""

Does even he believe we are taking him seriously at this point ?

It may be too soon to credit the Press Corps actual individual spines (I'm still waiting to see what happens with the DSM before I go that far). But its clear that as a pack they are starting to smell weakness and fear coming off of this administration. Scotty McClellan is getting prissier and prissier with the reporters; and they are starting to call him on his BS.

I'm still not convinced the Press is ready to party like its 1972 yet. But there are hopeful signs that they are remembering who they were and what they used to be able to do to elected officials that crossed them. The feeding frenzy directed at this White House may never materialize, but if it does, it will be all the bloodier for being so long denied. As Hamlet would say :

"tis a consummation to be devoutly wished"


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