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We're All Banging Our Heads, Tony

The name games that this administration is playing borders on the surreal. Strategy--tactics--blah, blah. blah. Martha Raddatz (corrected) tries to ge

TonySNowbangshead.jpgThe name games that this administration is playing borders on the surreal. Strategy--tactics--blah, blah. blah. Martha Raddatz (corrected) tries to get Tony Snow to make sense, but really---there is no sense to be made in Iraq.

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Q Tony, what is James Baker doing? What are they looking at, if not trying to change the strategy? It almost seems like you're changing the definition of strategy to fit tactics in the middle --

He finally bangs his head on the podium. Thanks, Tony--we have innocent people and US troops being killed while you play games at the podium. Let's give Tony a break, we're the ones in confusion, after all.

Transcript:

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MR. SNOW: No, what I'm trying to do is to come up with some way in which you and I can talk the same language so that we don't all go cross-eyed in total bewilderment and confusion. And so perhaps -- look, you guys, why don't you email me the labels you want me to use for these various groupings that I've given to you.

Q I just want to know, James Baker is using -- will look at strategy, and you're saying you're going to listen to James Baker and Lee Hamilton and this bipartisan report --

MR. SNOW: Well, I think what they're talking --

Q -- then what's strategy in your definition?

MR. SNOW: I think they will agree with what I described as "strategy," which is --

Q But you just said you're not even considering a change in -- no, Tony, sorry.

MR. SNOW: No, that's because I'm not going to -- we are not going to change our belief that you require -- this is the strategy -- this is the strategic picture that requires an economic, political and security component. And I guarantee you people on that commission agree. So what we're talking about they describe as strategy, I'll describe as tactics. Sorry, we're talking different languages; I'm trying to harmonize for the purpose of answering your question.


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Q Okay. So James Baker is doing what the President says he relies on his generals to do, which is tactics.

MR. SNOW: Well, I think he's really -- the generals also engage not merely in -- yes, to some extent, yes; but the generals also have a much more detailed ground-level view of how to achieve these things. Maybe we need to come up with a fourth label.

But Secretary Baker and Lee Hamilton and others are going to take a close look at ideas that they think are going to be more effective to achieve that strategic goal of an Iraq that can defend itself, sustain itself, and govern itself, and to do so in a way that involves security, economic and political components.

I think all of that is agreed upon. So now the question is, what is your mid-level goal? They're going to take a look at the various goals and try to proceed. I know, we're getting into a linguistic swivet here.

Q I know, I know. But it's like we're changing the goals -- it's almost like you're trying to hide behind the term "tactics" to change strategy.

MR. SNOW: No. No. Because I think the strategy is real clear. You try to use all three of those modalities to achieve an end.

Q Can we talk about -- speaking of generals, General Caldwell, yesterday -- you said you called him right before you came out here.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Why is that?

MR. SNOW: Because I try to touch base with him. I actually --

Q Every day? Do you always, every day, or just when he says something that you may not agree with?

MR. SNOW: No, I actually -- no, I didn't say anything -- he didn't say anything I disagree with. I mean --

Q You said he was misquoted.

MR. SNOW: No, I quoted him. I said he was quoted somewhat out of context. I didn't say he was misquoted. And I read the full quote yesterday so that people can decide.

Q You did say it was misquoted.

MR. SNOW: Well, he was quoted out of context. Okay, well, then I was wrong. He was quoted out of context. But the other thing is General Caldwell knows better than I what the situation is on the ground, so I rely on him to try to provide data. In fact, he's putting together some data points, because I know there's a lot of interest in trying to figure out metrics for it. He's working that up and I hope to have some of that for you Monday.

Q Do you have an idea of the metrics so far? Do you have an idea of how the indicators are going in Baghdad about how things are going? What's your assessment based on what you talked with General Caldwell?

MR. SNOW: Let me -- I'll get back to you Monday, because I think what you want to do is to have an assessment with a sufficiently good timeline that you can draw conclusions that are defensible. He's working on that. Give me until Monday and I'll bring back the homework for you.

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