McClellan: Sorry, No, I Disagree

Also via Joshua Micah Marshall, you really must read this exchange with everyone’s favorite White House press secretary: Press briefing by Scott McClellan. At issue is how the White House is already backing away from the prediction it made a week and a half ago that 26 million new jobs would be created this year. An excerpt from late in the exchange, after McClellan has already sidestepped the question several times:

Q Why — if you’re suggesting that people will debate the numbers, that’s kind of a backhanded way to say, oh, who cares about the numbers. Well, apparently, the President’s top economic advisors do, because that’s why they wrote a very large report and sent it to Congress. So why was the prediction made in the first place, if the President and you and his Treasury Secretary were going to just back away from it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I disagree with the premise of the way you stated that. This is the annual Economic Report of the President and the economic modeling is done this way every year. It’s been done this way for 20-some years.

Q So why not — why aren’t you standing behind it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think what the President stands behind is the policies that he is implementing, the policies that he is advocating. That’s what’s important.

Q That’s not in dispute. The number is the question.

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but the President’s concern is on the number of jobs being created —

Q My question is, why was the prediction made —

MR. McCLELLAN: — and the President’s focus is on making sure that people who are hurting because they cannot find work have a job. That’s where the President’s focus is.

Q Then why predict a number? Why was the number predicted? Why was the number predicted? You can’t get away with not — just answer the question. Why was that number predicted?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve been asked this, and I’ve asked — I’ve been asked, and I’ve answered.

Q No, you have not answered. And everybody watching knows you haven’t answered.

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree.

I like that because it reminded me of a great piece that ran in The Onion back in March of last year: Point-counterpoint: The war on Iraq.

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