Tony Snow's last televised briefing. Photo by Getty Images
by Mark Silva
Tony Snow, delivering his final televised press briefing as White House press secretary today, rejected the contention of Democratic congressional leaders that the administration is making an “open-ended’’ commitment to U.S. military forces in Iraq.
“It's pretty clear that it is not a war without end,’’ Snow said today. “As a matter of fact, it is a war that actually has victory as its aim.''
At the same time, Snow appeared reluctant to say that the U.S. is winning the war as it stands today.
“What you can say is that in fighting al Qaeda in places like Anbar it is winning… but it is winning because Iraqis themselves are standing up,’’ Snow said. “This is not the U.S.’s war to win or lose. Ultimately it is the Iraqi people,’’ he said, explaining that the U.S. will not unilaterally win the war but rather establish conditions in which Iraqis can sustain a government.
Snow was challenged to explain why maintaining that the U.S. will remain committed to the fight until victory is declared is not the open-ended commitment that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) and other Democrats are calling it.
“Because the job will get done,’’ Snow said, accusing reporters of playing a "verbal game" in trying to label the White House’s policy as an open-ended commitment. “By that definition, every war in the history of humankind is an open-ended commitment… I defy you to find in the history of humankind a situation in which an artificial political defintion won a war.’’
Snow will finish his own job on finished Friday, when he steps down as press secretary after a year-and-a-half – handing the podium to deputy and incoming Press Secretary Dana Perino. But, with the president planning to travel on Friday to Quantico, Va. – the day after his prime-time address on the war – there will be no televised press briefing that day.
“I’ll miss it,’’ said Snow, leaving the White House to concentrate on writing a book about fighting cancer, making speeches and waging his own personal battle against the disease. “Everybody talks about what a horrible job it is to brief the press. I love these briefings,’’ Snow said to applause in the press room. “The only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer.’’