While White House Press Secretary Dana Perino may lack the showstopping musical theatre skills of her doppelganger, Kristin Chenoweth, she nevertheless provides us with almost daily entertainment. She's also recently remarked that parody and criticism of her efforts don't bother her in the least. When asked if ribbing of the sort she's been receiving from Doonesbury this week "gets under her skin," she brushed it off: "I hardly have time to check it out." Bully for her! She won't mind, then, if we put her under the microscope. Please join us on these pages for "The Gift That Keeps on Giving," and if something at the gaggle makes you gag, feel free to share your thoughts.
While the California wildfires and the upcoming Iraq supplemental bill dominated the early part of yesterday's presser, the conversation eventually turned to the testimony of CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding, whose testimony on the public health impact of climate change was alleged to have been "heavily edited" by the Washington Post (well, the Post says "heavily edited," anyway--their source says "eviscerated").
When directly questioned on the deletions (which included Gerberding's blanket conclusion, "CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern"), Perino launched into a four paragraph dodge in which she claimed to not have seen the edits, touted the administrations "open book" policy on climate change, and orated a lengthy filibuster in praise of the CDC. Near the end of these remarks, however, Perino took a flying leap into the eternal sunshine, saying: "And so the decision on behalf of CDC was to focus that testimony on public health benefits -- there are public health benefits to climate change, as well, but both benefits and concerns that somebody like a Dr. Gerberding, who is the expert in the field, could address."
Public health benefits? Yea, verily, this was a theme Perino tried to advance, in spite of the fact that she was simultaneously attempting to tout the President's concern over the issue:
Anybody who wants to look at what the President thinks about climate change looks -- needs to only look back three weeks ago to when he gave a major address on climate change when he invited all 15 of the major economies of this world to come together to work on a solution -- work on a path to get to a solution to help the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
Still, you have to be intrigued at the prospect of possible health benefits from global warming. As Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report blueskies, "Less hypothermia? Fewer instances of frostbite? A steep decline in the number of snowball-fight-related injuries?"
Lest you think that Perino had blinded the White House Press Corps with pseudo-science, someone did eventually question her assertion. Perino's response:
...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. There are also concerns that it would increase tropical diseases and that's -- again, I'm not an expert in that, I'm going to let Julie Gerberding testify in regards to that...
Uhm...but they didn't let Gerberding testify to that, did they?
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