When asked for reaction to the comments of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) about the treatment of detainees held at Guanatananmo Bay, the administration did not hesitate to attack the statements:
Q How do you take Senator Durbin’s comments? What’s your response to his comments?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, this is, I’m sure, a family program, Steve. I have to be careful what I say. (Laughter.) I thought Durbin was totally out of line But I just — it was so far over the top that I’m just appalled that anybody who serves in the United States Senate would even think those thoughts.
Q How is the President reacting to [Senator Durbin’s comments]?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the Senator’s remarks are reprehensible simply beyond belief.
So the question at today’s press briefing about the remarks of Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) certainly seemed like a softball:
QUESTION: Representative Tom Tancredo recently suggested that taking out Muslim holy sites might be a good way to fight terrorism. Now, his statement has been showing up in newspapers throughout the Muslim world. Will the White House ask Mr. Tancredo to apologize and retract his statement as it did with Senator Durbin?
MCCLELLAN: Yes, I think the State Department actually addressed this issue right at the time and they expressed the views of the administration. The president has made very clear that it Islam is a religion that teaches peace and that it is a proud and great religion. And he stated his views on it.
A United States congressman calls for the bombing of Mecca and other Islamic holy sites, refuses to apologize, and this is the best McClellan could come up with. Bombing Mecca isn’t “reprehensible” or “simply beyond belief”?