Helen Thomas v. Tony Snow – and a Rovian “Rabbi”

Does Jonah Goldberg get anything right?

But emailers are telling me that Tony Snow walloped Helen Thomas in the WH briefing.

In case you are wondering if Mr. Snow punched Helen Thomas or beat her in a good old fashion bout of mud wrestling, let me assure you that Jonah’s fantasies went unanswered. Ms. Thomas was simply asking about the wire tapping controversy:

Q The President today denied he’d ever broken the law in terms of wiretaps. He also indicated that anything that was looked into, any calls, had some sort of foreign aspect either to or from. And he has said he’s always obeyed the law. Are all of these stories untrue that we’ve been reading for the last several days that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?
MR. SNOW: Well, let’s
Q Are the phone calls turned over to the government?
MR. SNOW: Okay, let’s try to segregate the stories here. What he’s said about the terror surveillance program is that these are foreign-to-domestic calls and they were all done within the parameters of the law. He has not commented on the
Q He, himself, has said he didn’t obey that law.
MR. SNOW: No, he didn’t. What he said is that he has done everything within the confines of the law. The second thing is, you’re mentioning a USA Today story about which this administration has no comment. But I would direct you back to the USA Today story itself, and if you analyze what that story said, what did it say? It said there is no wiretapping of individual calls, there is no personal information that is being relayed. There is no name, there is no address, there is no consequence of the calls, there’s no description of who the party on the other end is.
Q Privacy was breached by turning over their phone numbers.
MR. SNOW: Well, again, you are jumping to conclusions about a program, the existence of which we will neither confirm, nor deny.
Q Why? Don’t you think the American people have a right to know
MR. SNOW: Because — what’s interesting is, there seems to be a notion that because the President has talked a little bit about one surveillance program and one matter of intelligence gathering, that somehow we have to tell the entire world we have to make intelligence gathering transparent. Let me remind you, it’s a war on terror, and there are people — I guarantee you, al Qaeda does not believe —
Q He doesn’t have a right to break the law, does he?
MR. SNOW: No, the President is not talking about breaking the law. But al Qaeda doesn’t believe in transparency. What al Qaeda believes in is mayhem, and the President has a constitutional obligation and a heartfelt determination to make sure we fight it.
Q to obey the Constitution
MR. SNOW: Absolutely right.
Q the Fourth Amendment
MR. SNOW: Absolutely right, and he believes in obeying it.
Q You might repeat the same thing, but why not declassify this? I mean, the President did talk about the surveillance program a day after The New York Times broke that story. This would seem to affect far more people, and it did sound like the President was confirming that story today. He was answering Terry’s question —
MR. SNOW: Well, if you go back – if you go back and you look through what he said, there was a reference to foreign-to-domestic calls. I am not going to stand up here and presume to declassify any kind of program. That is a decision the President has to make. I can’t confirm or deny it. The President was not confirming or denying.
Again, I would take you back to the USA Today story, simply to give you a little context. Look at the poll that appeared the following day. While there was –part of it said 51 percent of the American people opposed, if you look at when people said, if there is a roster of phone numbers, do you feel comfortable that – I’m paraphrasing and I apologize – but something like 64 percent of the polling was not troubled by it. Having said that, I don’t want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program – the alleged program – the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny.
Q But there are polls that show Americans are very concerned about it.
MR. SNOW: The President – you cannot run a security – you cannot base national security on poll numbers. As the President of the United States you have to make your own judgments about what is in the nation’s best interest.
Q You just brought it up, though.
MR. SNOW: Well, I did bring it up because what you were talking about is how people were concerned about privacy issues, and I tried to relate to you what happened. It was interesting, when people were given the specifics in that story, they did not seem to be terribly troubled.
Q We are now.

So Snow dodged Ms. Thomas’s questions and when she persisted, he falsely claims the American people don’t care citing polls number and then saying who cares about poll numbers as he plays the national security card. That’s right – we have to violate the Fourth Amendment and spy on Aunt Bee – or else Al Qaeda has won.

I’m sorry Jonah – but Tony Snow showed himself to be as much of a weasel as Scott McClellan.

Speaking of National Security, the rightwingers over at Human Events have joined with Rabbi Ayerh Spero:

Every time the Democrats “expose” how the administration is fighting the war on terror, Republicans become defensive and hide for cover as if we are doing something wrong. Instead, let the President or the Speaker or Senate Majority Leader offer the following proposition: No more intercepting calls from Al Qaeda. No more detention of captured terrorist suspects. No more detention camps … Let’s point at the Democrats, while the American people are listening, and say: OK, we’ll do it your way. Safety is secondary to whatever Human Rights Watch and the ACLU demand.

Before you decide to fire back that this “Rabbi” is a nut case, check out his energy proposal:

Drilling in Alaska is Biggest Religious Issue of our Time

We have an election coming up in November so expect a lot of this bashing of Democrats on these fake national security concerns.

Update: National Review’s Media Blog described Thomas v. Snow as:

Fact-checking Helen Thomas, who falsely alleged that “millions of Americans have been wiretapped.” Snow explained that the USA Today story said nothing about wiretapping, and explained further why he couldn’t comment on the program: “Let me remind you: It’s a war on terror… Al-Qaeda doesn’t believe in transparency.”

So a non-denial denial is considered fact checking? Interesting. Media Blog continues:

He got tripped up when he started talking about poll numbers. First he used poll numbers to support a point he was making, then he said the president can’t conduct national security based on poll numbers. Again, discounting for misleading poll questions, the poll numbers have indicated support for this idea. He should not have conceded that the program is unpopular.

Now that’s rich – if a poll does not support your spin – call its questions “misleading”.