Mona Charen

When Faisal Shahzad attempted to explode a car bomb in Times Square, the administration at first declared it to be a lone wolf attack, only later reluctantly conceding that the Pakistani Taliban had been culpable. When the consulate in Benghazi was attacked (undermining the administration narrative that al-Qaida had died with bin Laden), the administration conducted a prolonged disinformation campaign designed to deny the obvious.

Tiptoeing through language after the Boston bombings, the administration at first declined to use the word "terror," perhaps fearing that to use the word would imply a Muslim connection. "You use those words and it means something very specific in people's minds," explained David Axelrod. Besides, he continued, the president suspected "tax day" protesters.

What has this excruciating torture of the language and elaborate "rebranding" achieved? The U.S. is not safer. Terror attacks have been attempted at the same rate as during the Bush years (and have been thwarted slightly less successfully). As for U.S. standing in the Muslim world, the Guardian reports that a 2011 poll found favorability ratings for the U.S. have plummeted. "In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush administration, and lower than Iran's favorable ratings." A 2012 Pew poll of six predominantly Muslim nations -- Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan -- found U.S. approval ratings below those during the Bush Administration and well under the popularity of China.

It's one thing to create a bogeyman for political purposes. Obama did it to Bush in 2008 (for use against McCain), and he did it to Romney in 2012. It's quite another to believe your own propaganda and make policy in response. Bush was no anti-Muslim bigot. If he erred, it was in believing too credulously in the readiness for western-style democracy in the Arab world.

As for Obama, his doubletalk about the nature of our enemies -- jihadis -- has achieved neither greater safety for Americans nor improved popularity in the Muslim world. He's 0 for 2.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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