The White House responded to Democratic outrage over Karl Rove’s remarks that liberals in this country want our troops to die.
As you read the following remember that this is YOUR GOVERNMENT talking, paid for with YOUR taxes. The site this is from is the White House. The event was the daily press briefing. The discussion is over remarks by government employee, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and Senior White House Advisor, Karl Rove.
Q Last night Karl Rove, in a speech, accused the Democrats of trying to send the terrorists into therapy and not responding appropriately to 9/11, whereas the Republicans, he felt, responded appropriately. He’s been called on to make an apology. Will Karl Rove will apologize, and is this elevating the discourse, the way you said the President will do?
MR. McCLELLAN: Talking about different philosophies and different approaches? That’s what Karl Rove was talking about. He was talking about the different philosophies and our different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And I don’t know who is even making such a suggestion.
Q Harry Reid.
Q Nancy Pelosi.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I would think that they would want to be able to defend their philosophy and their approach. I mean, I know that the Democratic leadership at this point is offering no ideas and no vision for the American people, but Karl was simply pointing out the different philosophies and different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism.
Q He said the Democrats wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. That’s not injecting politics into the tragedy of September 11th?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it’s talking about the different philosophies for winning the war on terrorism. The President recognizes that the way to win the war on terrorism is to take the fight to the enemy, to stay on the offensive, and to work to spread freedom and democracy to defend the ideology of hatred that they espouse, and the ideology of tyranny and oppression.
Q So will the President ask Karl Rove to apologize?
MR. McCLELLAN: Of course not, Jessica. This is simply talking about different philosophies and different approaches. And I think you have to look at it in that context. If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that’s their business. But it’s important to point out the different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And that’s all he was doing.
Q So you’re suggesting that Rove’s approach to discussing the philosophy that Democrats — is to say that they want to prepare indictments and seek counseling. That’s their philosophy, is that what you were saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the comments were saying — the conservative approach and the liberal approach is what he was talking about.
Q He was saying that that’s the comparison in their philosophies?
MR. McCLELLAN: He was speaking to a political organization. There are many who have looked at the war on terrorism and said it is a law enforcement matter, that we should prosecute people. The President recognizes that it is a war and that we must stay on the offensive, we must take the fight to the enemy. The best way to defeat the enemy is to fight them abroad and bring them to justice before they can carry out their attacks here at home.
Q And the therapy? What about the therapy?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that’s what he’s — and I think that’s what he’s talking about.
Q Scott, going back to Jessica’s question. So are you saying that it’s completely appropriate the way Karl Rove invoked 9/11? And what would you say to those who say that the comments were simply partisan and hurtful?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that Karl was simply pointing out the different philosophies when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. That’s what he was doing. The President of the United States — you bring up something that’s very important — has worked to elevate the discourse in this town and reach out to get things done, and that’s what he’s done. Now, Karl was simply pointing out the differences that exist in how we approach the war on terrorism and how different people view it in a different way.
Q Well, what’s the philosophy he’s —
MR. McCLELLAN: So what — Jessica, I’m sorry, I’m going to keep going to others. You’ve had your opportunity.
Q What is the — I mean, the understanding of the Democrat’s philosophy, then?
MR. McCLELLAN: Was that simply pointing — well, let me point out, was that simply talking about differences in how you approach the war on terrorism?
Q It was talking about suggesting that Democrats simply want to offer therapy and understanding to those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
MR. McCLELLAN: And view it as essentially a law enforcement matter.
Q Well, they feel as though there is, in fact, an ugly partisan and hurtful tone to those remarks —
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that it’s —
Q — that don’t elevate the discourse.
MR. McCLELLAN: — some Democratic leaders that chose to attack for those comments instead of defend their philosophy.
Q Scott, just again on Karl’s remarks last night, when he talked about the indictments, was he simply reflecting the sentiments of the President, who, as we know, in many, many speeches, perhaps in jest, talked about referring to the terrorists as saying maybe they thought after 9/11, we would just file a lawsuit?
MR. McCLELLAN: The war on terrorism brought us, to our shores — let me back up, because the President — this was talked about at length over the course of the last four years, Ed. We had a pre-9/11 mind set prior to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon here in Washington. Those attacks showed us that we were vulnerable here at home to the threats of terrorism.
And for too long, people looked at these terrorist attacks and thought they could be dealt with in a certain way. Maybe there would be ways to negotiate with terrorists or maybe there would be ways to simply prosecute people for carrying out terrorist activity around the world. And the Middle East, during all that time, was becoming a breeding ground for this kind of terrorism. It was becoming a breeding ground for an ideology that is based on hatred and oppression and violence. And we were looking the other way.
That’s why the President said this is a comprehensive war, this is a war, that’s what it is. It’s a comprehensive war on terrorism, it’s a comprehensive war on an ideology, this is a long struggle that we are in. And the President outlined a comprehensive strategy for winning this war and defeating the ideology of hatred and oppression. And I think all Karl was talking about last night was the different approaches to how you go about winning the war on terrorism. So, you know, some can try to make more out of it than they should, but he was simply talking about the different approaches.
Q So when the President many times in the past actually has evoked laughter from his audiences when he talked about they thought we’d just filing a lawsuit, was he saying that in jest or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, Ed. In fact, he was saying it with all seriousness, because if you look back to how things were dealt with prior to 9/11, people knew exactly what he was talking about. When we were attacked previously on our own shores, people were prosecuted. That’s what he was talking about. But we didn’t recognize that — the threat that we were facing from abroad. The President saw very clearly on September 11th that this was a struggle of ideologies and this was a war on terrorism, a war that we must win to build a free and peaceful future for people across the world, and to ensure our long-term security. I think you all know that in this room. And, you know, if people want to engage in partisan bickering, that’s their business. We’re going to talk about what the differences are when it comes to how we move forward.
Q Continuing on with this then, Scott, are you suggesting that it was not Karl’s intention to belittle that philosophy, merely to illustrate it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, you have his remarks, you can go back and look at his remarks for yourself.
Q Scott, you ask us oftentimes for specifics — does Karl have in mind a particular Democratic leader who suggested therapy for the folks who attacked on 9/11?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can look at his remarks, Mark.
Q He didn’t mention any names, and I’m asking you if you know.
MR. McCLELLAN: I know, so you should go look at your remarks.
Q So in other words, there are no —
MR. McCLELLAN: Clearly, there are people who have taken a different approach, and I don’t think we need to get into names.
Q But someone who specifically has suggested therapy?
MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, if you want to make more than it was, then you’re welcome to, but I think you should go back and look at his remarks. I didn’t see his remarks.
Q He didn’t name any names, which is why I’m asking you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and you can go back and look at his remarks and see for yourself what it says.
Q Was Karl Rove speaking last night as a Deputy White House Chief of Staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: He is the Deputy White House Chief and Senior White House Advisor, and I would encourage you to go look at his remarks and what he said.
Q Especially given the venue, being in New York, where there is, obviously, a very strong personal connection for many people to what happened on 9/11 and the immediate bipartisan support the President enjoyed right after those events, does the President think the tone of what Mr. Rove was saying is fair and appropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you bring up a very good point. It was in New York, it was to the New York Conservative Party. So he was talking about the different philosophy between conservatives and liberals and different philosophy for approaching the war on terrorism. That is a very important priority for all Americans and it’s very important that the American people know what we are doing to win that war on terrorism. And that’s why he was talking about it and telling it like it is when it comes to the different approaches for winning the war on terrorism.
Q But similarly, liberals in New York, New Jersey area also feel very personally affected. And so the tone of those remarks, by some, would be judged as going too far.
MR. McCLELLAN: He was speaking to the New York Conservative Party and talking about different philosophies — a conservative philosophy and a liberal philosophy — when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. I disagree with such a characterization.
Q You think that was perfectly appropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I just said that he was talking about the different philosophies. The President has talked about the different philosophies when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And he was speaking to a specific audience about those philosophies and talking about the philosophy that we stand for and the approach that we stand for.
Now if others don’t want to defend their approach, that’s their business. But to talk about the issues, particularly a priority that’s this important, is, I think, something that people expect us to focus on. This is talking about important issues that do have a direct impact on the American people and do have a direct impact on our peace and security.
Q But others don’t think the characterization of how liberals approach —
MR. McCLELLAN: Who are the others?
Q Well, you’ve got Nancy Pelosi today, Harry Reid were talking about the fact that the use of the words was not appropriate for the way, especially in the New York area —
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you disagree that he was simply talking about the different philosophies and different approaches?
Q What I’m talking about is word choice.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that they are just trying to engage in partisan attacks. Karl was simply talking about different philosophies, and we should be talking about what we stand for and how we want to move forward. We should be talking about what the different visions are and what the different ideas are, and that’s what he was doing.
The President has spoken to conservative audiences, as well, and he’s talked about the different philosophies when it comes to how we govern and how we address the important priorities for the American people. That’s what Karl was doing in this setting. I think the American people want to know how we are going about governing, and how — and the philosophy that is behind that, and how we are approaching these important priorities, because this matters to the American people.
Now, I know — I appreciate you all in this room. You want to get caught up in all the process and the back and forth bickering that goes on in this city. We’re going to focus on the issues and that’s what we will continue to do.
Q Can I ask it in this way, Scott? Then if this is an issue, is this an expression in some manner that the White House is concerned that with the popularity of the war diminishing, the anti-war liberalism is beginning to take hold so the President and Karl are confronting it directly?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was speaking to the New York Conservative Party, and he was talking about different philosophies — the conservative philosophy and the liberal philosophy and how we’re approaching different priorities for the American people. That’s all it is.
That was your government, speaking to you and for you. Insulting you. Mocking you.