Tony Snow Quips to Helen Thomas: 'Thank You for the Hezbollah View'

During Today's press briefing, press secretary Tony Snow had another testy exchange with Helen Thomas.


"Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view."

"Please let me finish. I know this is great entertainment," said the press secretary.

Helen Thomas kept bringing up an imaginary cease-fire, to which Snow finally remarked, "All right, this is hectoring now," and moved on to another questioner.

Outside the Beltway has the video. Here's the transcript:
HELEN THOMAS: The United States is not that helpless. It could have stopped the bombardment of Lebanon. We have that much control with the Israelis.

MR. SNOW: I don't think so, Helen.

HELEN THOMAS: We have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine.

TONY SNOW: What's interesting, Helen --

HELEN THOMAS: And this is what's happening, and that's the perception of the United States.

TONY SNOW: Well, thank you for the Hezbollah view, but I would encourage you --

HELEN THOMAS: Nobody is accepting your explanation. What is restraint, a call for restraint?

TONY SNOW: Well, I'll tell you, what's interesting, Helen, is people have. The G8 was completely united on this. And as you know, when it comes to issues of --

HELEN THOMAS: And we stopped a cease-fire -- why?

TONY SNOW: We didn't stop a cease-fire. I'll tell you what --

HELEN THOMAS: We vetoed --

TONY SNOW: We didn't even veto. Please get your facts right. What happened was that the G8 countries made a pretty clear determination that the guilty party here was Hezbollah. You cannot have a cease-fire when you've got the leader of Hezbollah going on his television saying that he perceives total war -- he's declaring total war. When they are firing rockets indiscriminately --

HELEN THOMAS: We had the United Nations --

TONY SNOW: Please let me finish. I know this is great entertainment, but I want to finish the answer. The point here is they're firing rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas. The Israelis are responding as they see fit. You will note the countries that disagree with the --

HELEN THOMAS: -- bombardment of a whole country --

TONY SNOW: -- that disagree with the government of Israel in terms of its general approach on Palestine, many of our European allies agree that Israel has the right to defend itself, that the government of Lebanon has the right to control all its territory, that Hezbollah is responsible and that those who support it also bear responsibility. There is no daylight between the United States and all the allies on this. They all agreed on it. This was not difficult --

HELEN THOMAS: At that point, why did we veto a cease-fire?

TONY SNOW: We didn't veto a cease-fire.

HELEN THOMAS: Yes, we did.

TONY SNOW: No, we didn't. There was -- there was no cease-fire. I'm sorry --

HELEN THOMAS: Wasn't there a resolution?



TONY SNOW: No -- no. You know what you've -- I see what you -- what happened was that there was conversation about "a cease-fire" that was picked up by some of the microphones when some colorful language made its way into the airwaves yesterday. And the President was continuing a conversation he'd had earlier with Prime Minister Tony Blair about staging. Would we like a cease-fire? You bet, absolutely. We would love to see a cease-fire. But the way you stage is that you make sure that the people who started this fight -- Hezbollah -- take their responsibility --

HELEN THOMAS: There was no veto at the U.N.?

TONY SNOW: No, there hasn't been a resolution at the VN -- U.N., whatever it is. (Laughter.) There hasn't been -- I was in Germany too long. There's been no resolution at the U.N.

HELEN THOMAS: Why aren't we proposing a truce, no matter who is to blame? At least stop the killing.

TONY SNOW: Because it wouldn't stop the killing. What it would do is it would say to the killers, you win.

HELEN THOMAS: Might save lives.

TONY SNOW: No, I don't think so. And I'm glad you raised this. You do not want to engage in a cease-fire that has a practical -- when you say to the Israelis, you guys just stop firing, when you have Hezbollah saying, we're going to wage total war, because Hezbollah would read that as vindication of its tactics, and the idea that if you get the right sort of videos on television, and you get the right things going on, you can allow them to behave with impunity. Even though they are weakening the sovereign government of Lebanon, they are acting independently; even though they have --

HELEN THOMAS: And bombarding Lebanon --

TONY SNOW: Even though they have received --

HELEN THOMAS: -- wipes out infrastructure.

TONY SNOW: All right, this is hectoring now.

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