Wednesday, February 26, 2003

You know it's a bad sign when

you're the White House Press Secretary and the Washington Press Corps laughs you off the stage during a briefing. I wish I had something other than Windows Media so I could watch this clip (apparently, you can click on Fleischer's 2/25 Press Briefing, and start watching it around 28:00) but here's the basic transcript. A Mexican journalist is suggesting that Mexico should be offered some kind of compensation if it decides to back up the U.S. on Iraq (a la Turkey's 6 kazillion dollar bribe).

Q But Mexico can get something from the United States, from the President --

MR. FLEISCHER: This is a time -- no, the President is not offering quid pro quos. This is a time for nations to do what they estimate is the right thing to do to promote the peace.

Q Ari, just to follow up on Mexico. Is it true that the administration is willing to give Mexico some sort of immigration agreements like amnesty or guest worker program, to assure the Mexican vote, as the French press is pointing out today and is quoting, actually, two different diplomats from the State Department?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's exactly as I indicated, that we have, on this issue, a matter of diplomacy and a matter of the merits. We ask each nation on the Security Council to weigh the merits and make a decision about war and peace. And if anybody thinks that there are nations like Mexico, whose vote could be bought on the basis of a trade issue or something else like that, I think you're giving -- doing grave injustice to the independence and the judgment of the leaders of other nations.

Q -- the French press is quoting actually two different diplomats from the United States State Department that -- they're highlighting that the United States is giving some sort of agreements or benefits to Colombia -- and other non-members of the Security Council --

MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't seen the story. And you already have the answer, about what this will be decided on. But think about the implications of what you're saying. You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition. (Laughter.)

That's right, laughter. Apparently on the video, the Washington Press Corps breaks out into guffaws when Fleischer suggests that the U.S. doesn't bribe nations for votes. Then, (and this naturally isn't on the transcript but is apparently audible on the video) a journalist remarks that Fleischer was just "laughed off the stage."


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