"A sound-bite war"

The White House accuses Nancy Pelosi of a "poisonous" blow.

By Tim Grieve
Published January 19, 2007 8:29PM (EST)

In the run-up to the president's speech on Iraq last week, Tony Snow insisted that it would be the beginning of a conversation with Congress about the way forward in Iraq. As we know now, that's not the way the administration planned it -- the first wave of Bush's escalation arrived in Baghdad before Congress could have done anything about it.

In an interview with ABC News, Nancy Pelosi says she knows why the president's team acted so quickly after waiting so long: "The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way . . . we won't cut off the resources," Pelosi tells Diane Sawyer. "That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way."

Pelosi's words seem to be getting under somebody's skin. At today's White House press briefing, Dana Perino, filling in for Tony Snow, said that Congress is engaged in a "sound-bite war" and that Pelosi's characterization of Bush's motivations was "poisonous."

"It's certainly not in keeping with the bipartisan spirit and civility that the Democrats pledged and that we looked forward to," Perino said.

What about the bipartisan spirit in which the administration was supposed to be discussing its new way forward? "The president has nothing but the utmost respect for people that have disagreements with him," Perino said. "He's been very honest, and he understands that his decision is not popular. But he has the courage of his convictions, and he believes what he is doing is right."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq War Nancy Pelosi D-calif.