State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called Pat Robertson’s remarks about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “inappropriate”, but stopped short of condemning them. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the Pentagon isn’t in the business of killing foreign leaders, but he also did not denounce Robertson or his remarks. “He’s a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time”, Rumsfeld said.
Democrats called the Bush administration’s response tepid, and said it lends credence to the notion that the White House doesn’t want to offend some of its most loyal supporters. “It seems they are shuffling their feet when they should be running away from what Pat Robertson said”, Democratic political consultant Steve McMahon said. “That this president, who projects himself as brave and bold, doesn’t want to stand up to his own right wing is ironic.”
You can just imagine what the response of the Bush administration would be if an American Muslim leader were to call for the killing of a pro-US head of state. And their cries of outrage would of course be accompanied by articles explaining how the ideology of Islam inspires such violent fanaticism. However, when it’s the Reverend Pat Robertson – founder of the Christian Coalition of America, the man who supported Bush’s re-election last year and said he believed the president is blessed by God – calling for the murder of a supposed supporter of “Muslim extremism”, it’s a very different matter.