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'Threat' to Bush generates 'no comment' from White House

Sen.-elect Jim Webb

The White House isn’t going to respond to a report that Sen.-elect Jim Webb of Virginia felt like slugging the president when they met at a reception for incoming members of Congress.

“We decided not to comment on that issue,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said when asked by Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent there.

The issue had been in The New York Times and The Hill, where reports said that was Webb’s feeling.

Snow declined to say whether any “incident” happened or not. “What it’s (the report) talking about is a state of mind,” he said. “There was no threat to slug the president, because I was standing that far from Jim Webb.

“But, beyond that, we are simply not going to comment. It was a reception to welcome new members of Congress; we congratulate all of them on their victories, and the rest of it we’re just not going to play on,” he said.

Snow also declined to respond when asked if Webb would be considered courteous.

But in a recent column by George Will, he described Webb, a Democrat, as a “pompous poseur.”

“Wednesday’s Washington Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb ‘tried to avoid President Bush,’ refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, ‘How’s your boy?’ Webb replied, ‘I’d like to get them out of Iraq.’ Bush said, ‘That’s not what I asked you. How’s your boy?’ Webb replied, ‘That’s between me and my boy,’ Will wrote.

He also noted that Webb reported he wasn’t “particularly interested” in having a picture of him and George W. Bush.

“Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor,” Will wrote. “Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb’s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being – one who asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.”

Webb was a narrow victor – by about one-third of a percentage point – over Republican George Allen in the Virginia Senate race.

On another issue that also involves Congress, Snow was asked whether there was a White House opinion on a plan by Congressman-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota to be sworn into office with the Quran.

“Does the president support this request, because he believes the Quran teaches nothing contrary to the freedoms in our Constitution? And if so, would he support the Book of Mormon being used to swear in LDS members of Congress if they ever ask for that?” Snow was asked.

“That is an issue that the president does not need to adjudicate, and therefore, will not,” Snow said.

Missouri Congressman-elect Emanuel Cleaver II noted the U.S. Constitution sets out the requirement for an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution, but also notes that no religious test ever shall be required. The use of the Bible during swearing-in ceremonies is traditional.

“I do not believe that the law or rules should be changed to require one official holy book for use in administering our oath of office,” he told a constituent.

“As a Member of Congress and as an ordained minister, I believe America’s founders erected a wall between church and state – not to keep religion or faith out of public discourse – but instead, to keep the government out of an individual’s faith and out of churches or other places of worship. I recall that our founders prohibited any religious test to qualify for public office and our Constitution already protects public prayer and other public observances of an individual’s religious expressions. Imposing one holy book for the administration of a federal oath of office will diminish the religious liberties of all Americans, including my colleagues in Congress who do not share my Christian faith but may be Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or some other belief,” he said.

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