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The Worst Moment Of A Bad Press Conference

Q Thank you. Another issue--on another issue of credibility in the Mideast, at the Annapolis summit, you used your influence to get Saudi Arabia to the table. But I wonder whether now you will use your influence to do something about the Saudi rape case that's gotten so much international attention. What goes through your mind when you hear about a 19-year-old Saudi women getting gang-raped by seven men and basically a Saudi court blames the victim and sentenced her to 200 lashes? You spoke to King Abdullah by telephone in the last couple of weeks. Did you press him on this case? If so, what did you say? And if not, are you giving him a pass?

THE PRESIDENT: My first thoughts were these: What happens if this happened to my daughter? How would I react? And I would have been -- I would have been -- I'd have been very emotional, of course. I'd have been angry at those who committed the crime, and I'd be angry at a state that didn't support the victim. And our opinions were expressed by Dana Perino from the podium and --

Q But did you press King Abdullah about it, personally?

THE PRESIDENT: I talked to King Abdullah about the Middle Eastern peace. I don't remember if that subject came up.

Q But if it's that important to you, why wouldn't you bring it -- at that level, bring it directly up to King Abdullah?

THE PRESIDENT: We'll have plenty of time. He knows our position loud and clear.

Watching him say this live was particularly insulting--he paused a long, long time after his first five words, and it became reasonably clear that his initial thought was not in fact about his daughter. "State that didn't support the victim" is an insult to euphemisms, but at least Dana Perino knows how to send a strong message! Worst of all, the president's typical annoyance with being asked questions he does not want to answer felt particularly outrageous considering that he displayed no anger about the actual case. Disgraceful.

--Isaac Chotiner