I have to admit some of her predecessors were a hoot.
Fliescher leaking to reporters about "Joe Wilson's wife works at CIA".
McClennan stating that "I've spoken to Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and they weren't involved" in the leaking of CIA Agent Valerie Plame-Wilson's identity.
Snow and his immortal "Not gonna hug the tar-baby" line.
But new White House Press Secretary Dana Perino totally and completely takes the clueless cake to a completely new level.
The White House Press Secretary is often a difficult job. Obstensibly the goal is to help better inform the public about the policies and accomplisments of the administration - however, when you happen to work in an administration that bares a striking resemblence to an organized criminal enterprise - actually informing the public with what is really going on can become somewhat problematic.
So far in her short period filling in for Tony Snow, Dana already had a few whoppers...
Perino: The Congress does not have oversight over the White House. [Press briefing, 3/26/07]
Yeah, right - except that they do.
Perino on Alberto Gonzales: He’s our No. 1 crimefighter.
Sure he is, when he's not firing perfectly good prosecutors without knowing why, supporting torture, making War Crimes legal, denying habeas corpus, rejecting the constitution, excusing the rendition of innocent people, illegal wiretaps, datamining of our private and personal information without a warrant and intimidating judges.
On March 27, Perino claimed that there were only a "handful" of staffers with (RNC) accounts. On April 12, Perino claimed that her earlier statement was made despite her ignorance of what was actually going on. "Well, I didn’t know how many there were," Perino said. "I grant you, it’s a very large handful."
So, just how big are your hands Dana?
Perino on Congress Visiting the White House: "Maybe they need to hear again from the president about why he thinks it is foolish to set arbitrary timetables for withdrawal."
Yeah, we wouldn't actually want to have a plan or anything.
Perino on Iraq: "It is not accurate to say that the United States is occupying Iraq."
Really now, then just what are we doing - having a kegger over there? And it's not like we were invited or anything.
But this week Ms. Perino has reached an all time low as she tried to defend the administrations use of political briefings to government employees. Specifically a Karl Rove Powerpoint Presentation which outlined potential election vulnerabilities for both Democrats and Republicans - with the specific goal of requesting the appointees to "Help Our Candidates" - was presented at the GSA and 15 other agencies including "Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Education, Agriculture and Energy, as well as NASA, the Small Business Administration, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Agency for International Development."
So how does Ms. Perino explain this? First of all, by relying on that old chestnut - Clinton did it too. Ah, yes - the classics never fade do they?
Q Was there any intent to try to tell people that they need to do something about the election, and to take some action?
MS. PERINO: These are information -- they're informational briefings about the political landscape.
Q Okay, so there was -- there was no intent to do that? Who -- did they ask for the briefings, or was it the White House that decided they wanted to give these briefings?
MS. PERINO: I think it sort of goes both ways. I do know that political appointees around the government -- I used to work at an agency, and you are interested in -- the reason that you're here working for the President is that you want to support his policies and his agenda, and so it's good to get information from time to time.
Q Well, who's idea -- it was the White House idea, initially, or was it the agencies?
MS. PERINO: I think that these briefings -- well, I know the Clinton administration had similar briefings. Where did they originate? I don't know. I couldn't give you a date.
It's just information, no need to worry. The information can't harm you. There was no intent to have anyone actually - do something with the information. OH, and Clinton did it too - so everything is fine. Nothing to see here. Move along now. Move along.
That's all fine and good except for the fact that it's a fucking LIE.
Doug Sosnik, who served as President Clinton’s Director of Political Affairs and later as Counselor to the President, told ThinkProgress, "We never went to agencies and briefed political appointees." Sosnik and several other former Clinton administration officials told ThinkProgress that Clinton officials never conducted similar briefings.
Yikes. That's gonna leave a mark in the morning.
Ok, so Clinton didn't do it. But you see, there's still nothing wrong with it -- cuz, well - I said so.
MS. PERINO: Checking with Counsel's Office and talking about informational briefings about political landscape, that that is okay, that that is acceptable; there is nothing in the law that says you can't do that, it's not unethical. And it is something that is absolutely reasonable and appropriate, to provide political appointees with information about the landscape in which they're working.
Q But what if at the end of those briefings there were other conversations about, then, how you could help --
MS. PERINO: "What if?" "What if?" I'm not answering "what ifs," Ed.
Q But you don't know the answers to those questions, do you? I mean, how can you make a blanket statement that no laws were broken, as you said this morning, when you don't really know what happened at these briefings or after the briefings?
MS. PERINO: You're asking me to prove a negative and I can't -- nobody can do that.
Q Then how can you make a blanket statement saying no laws were broken? You just made blanket statements without knowing the details.
MS. PERINO: The question is whether or not the political briefings are inappropriate, unethical or unlawful. And the answer to all three of those questions is, no.
Nothing in the law, eh? How about the Hatch Act which states...
These federal and D.C. employees may not-
* use official authority or influence to interfere with an election
* solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency
* solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations)
* be candidates for public office in partisan elections
* engage in political activity while:
o on duty
o in a government office
o wearing an official uniform
o using a government vehicle
* wear partisan political buttons on duty
It's fair to point out that the Act does allow federal employees to talk about politics if they so wish. They may also campaign for specific candidates, just as anyone else can as a private citizen. The problem comes in when people in a government position use their position and office to support or hurt particular candidates. For example throwing Republican Candidates a bone with high-profile photo-ops while tossing Democrats under the bus.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has discovered that in January, (Lorita) Doan asked "senior GSA officials to help ‘our candidates’ in the next elections through targeted public events." Doan discussed with GSA officials "how to exclude House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from an upcoming courthouse opening in San Francisco and how to include Republican Senator Mel Martinez."
Call me not a lawyer, but that looks like a violation of that "nothing" law to me. Maybe that's why the Office of Special Counsel is looking into the issue - ya think? (Although it could be, and has been argued that Special Prosecutor Scott Bloch may only be attempting to Cock-Bloch the Waxman investigation with his own white-wash of the entire affair - at any rate, time will tell.)
Despite the die job, I suspect Dana isn't really as blonde as she pretends to appear during these briefings. As she noted, she was advised by the White House Counsels Office that "nothing illegal occurred here". The very fact that Rove assistant Scott Jennings responded to Lorita Doan's question about "what we can do" by asking her to "Take it Offline" indicates that he knew that there was a potential problem with having that discussion or assigning specific action items on the record. The White House would like to pretend that such discussions didn't occur, or might simply prefer to toss anyone caught in the act like Doan off the train - but it simply defies common sense that Senior White House staff would put this much face time and energy into "simple information sharing" without expecting that something happen as a result, doesn't it?
Like Fleischer, McClennan and Snow - Perino is just playing Charlie McCarthy as mouthpeice to the real bullshitter sitting in the Oval Office.
Unfortunately for fans of high (and low) political comedy, further episodes of Da Ali Dana Show will be going on hiatus as Tony Snow is expected to return on Monday from his cancer surgery.