The more I look at these White House press briefings, the more I don’t understand why Helen Thomas was, apparently, the only regular reporter to catch this guy. Here is a further sampling of questions he posed. Note particularly the alert attention to nonexistent issues that could benefit the White House, the absence of any pretense of nonpartisanship, and the attack on the press:
Q Democrats in Congress are dragging their feet on the president’s free trade initiatives. Is the president frustrated by the loss of business and jobs, as result of their procrastination?
Q Two questions, please. Earlier in the year, the president announced a plan to competitively source over 400,000 federal jobs. Democrats in Congress are attaching language to appropriations bills for each of the agencies to prevent that. Is that something that the president would veto if those bills came to his desk with that language in it?
MR. FLEISCHER: On competitive souring?
Q I have a six-point question. Does the president share the view of millions of Americans who pray for him every day that hard-left groups like the ACLU and Americans for Separation of Church and State are waging a war on religion, and particularly — in particular, Christianity?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think you’ve heard the president’s views when it comes to religion. He’s spoken out very forcefully on this issue. The president is someone who believes in the right of all people to freely express their religious views. And he is someone that believes in religious tolerance. The president believes that we should welcome people of all faiths, and that those of faith should not be discriminated against. Those are the president’s views, and he’s talked about that repeatedly.
Q In particularly, I’m trying to evoke a statement from the president, who’s a deeply religious person, to a bewildered and angry majority of Americans who see their freedom of religion being infringed by the courts and a shrill minority.[N.b.: This isn’t the only time this speaker has alluded to nonexistent attacks on Christmas by an unspecified minority.]
Q Thanks, Scott. Some of the president’s most ardent supporters were disappointed that he didn’t say more in his State of the Union Address about the out-of-control judiciary. While the
MR. MCCLELLAN: The president continues to urge a minority of Senate Democrats to quit playing politics with our nation’s judicial system. The Senate needs to move forward and give all nominees an up- or-down vote. That is their constitutional responsibility. The president has put forward highly qualified nominees, and the Senate — a minority of Senate Democrats have chosen to play partisan politics and obstruct the process. Meanwhile, there are some judicial emergencies that need to be filled, and one of those was the vacant seat that Judge Pickering is now filling.
Q In the 6th Circuit in particular, there is a judicial crisis where the caseloads are far in excess of the average of the other circuits. Will the president recess appointment just to fill those vacancies?
Q Thank you. With all the reaching out that’s going on around here, the president said Thursday in his press conference that he was reaching out to the press corps.
What did he mean by that? And why would he feel the need to reach out to a group of supposedly nonpartisan people?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I think that was a tongue-in-cheek comment that the president made at the beginning of the press conference. He was showing his outreach efforts by holding that press conference the day after the election was decided.
Q Has he decided to let bygones be bygones and —
MR. MCCLELLAN: Look. Look. You heard — you heard from the president —
Q — (inaudible)?
MR. MCCLELLAN: You heard from the president at the news conference. The media certainly has an important role to play in keeping the American people informed about the decisions that we make here in
Q Despite the role that they tried to play, the president won anyhow. Is there some kind of rapprochement that’s going on?