Perino watch, again

Happy talk about "the public health benefits" of climate change.

Published October 25, 2007 8:06PM (EDT)

Several weeks back I wanted to start a regular blog feature, Perino Watch, to track the antics of White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. In that first post I focused on her astonishing performance spinning charges that the White House itself hurt counterterror efforts by leaking an Osama bin Laden video to Fox News. I had to update it minutes later when Perino confessed she hadn't heard of the Kyl-Lieberman resolution declaring Iran's revolutionary guard a terrorist group. I quickly realized Perino Watch could become a blog in itself, and I've got more important things to write about.

Still, Wednesday was a banner day for the challenged press secretary. She dismissed a Congressional Budget Office estimate that war in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost $2.4 trillion as "just a ton of speculation" (in fact the costs including interest on debt will certainly be higher). When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was confronted by a protester with red hands, Perino said this: "I saw a picture from that hearing where a lady in Code Pink with red painted on her hands disrupted the hearing, and I think it's despicable, and, unfortunately, it seems that increasingly Congress is being run by Code Pink." Of course, Code Pink has been picketing House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's house and office for months; they're her sharpest non-Republican critics. Perino also insisted comparisons between Hurricane Katrina and the California wildfires are misplaced, because wildfires are unpredictable, but "when you have a hurricane, there are days when you can prepare and prepare for evacuation." That contradicted her boss, President Bush, who defended the government's inaction two years ago by saying Katrina was a surprise, insisting: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

But Think Progress captured the week's best Perinoism, as she defended the administration's editing of Center for Disease Control director Dr. Julie Gerberding's Senate testimony on the "Human Impacts of Global Warming." She said the White House decided "to focus that testimony on public health benefits" of climate change. Oh yes, she did say that. A reporter followed up.

Q: And one more. You mentioned that there are health benefits to climate change. Could you describe some of those?

MS. PERINO: Sure. In some cases, there are -- look, this is an issue where I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this, but it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals.

People already love to ridicule Perino; she shouldn't make it so easy.

By Joan Walsh

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