WASHINGTON - America is in a prolonged war against Islamic terrorists, but also in a fierce political battle here at home over how to fight it and win.
President Obama is losing both wars, according to the negative reaction to his nationally televised address to the nation Sunday night from friends and foes alike.
GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Obama's speech conveyed a "growing sense we have a president who is completely overwhelmed."
"It was tiresome. There's a real case to be made that Obama's minimalist strategy isn't working," wrote the Washington Post's liberal columnist Dana Milbank, one of the president's earliest supporters.
On Tuesday, he ticked off a few of the other responses from Capitol Hill: "Repackaged half measures… Tone deaf…sales pitch for the status quo…Obama is riding the bench at T-ball today."
Donald Trump, the clear leader for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
That drew criticism from other presidential candidates in both parties and from American Muslims.
"One has to wonder what Donald Trump will say next as he ramps up his anti-Muslim bigotry," said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution? I feel like I'm back in the 1930s," Hooper said.
Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told the Associated Press the ban would include "everybody," but did not elaborate.
More than 80,000 Muslims immigrate to the United States each year, according to a Pew Research Center report in 2011.
In his address Sunday, Obama went through a laundry list of actions he has taken to combat terrorism and others that he wanted Congress to approve.
One of them was a new war authorization by Congress "to demonstrate that the American people are united and committed" in the war against the Islamic State's armies.
But Congress isn't united on another authorization vote, and leaders in both parties say he was given that authority (known as AUMFs) after the 9/11 attacks.
"They have the tools right now," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. "He has the authority to go out and destroy ISIS with the current AUMF he has."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid told reporters last month that "I don't believe in AUMFs."
What does that say about the Democrats?
That they are largely divided on the president's request, and are resisting another authorization vote in the war on terrorism. There is no unity.
Instead, Harry Reid is calling for the creation of an "ISIS czar" in the administration and tightening gun control laws. That no doubt will leave radical Muslims shaking in their boots and fleeing for their lives. Good grief.
Reid did endorse Obama's gun control proposals, which would block gun buyers who are on terrorism watch lists, an idea Republican leaders ridiculed.
"There cannot be any presumption of guilt just because the government includes your name on a list, particularly when it comes to denying your core constitutional rights," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.
It wasn't just the Republicans who were criticizing the president's response to the latest terrorist attack on our homeland. The liberal national news media has begun to criticize him more sharply, too.
The Post's Dana Milbank wasn't the only journalist to give Obama failing grades on the terrorists' widening war. Listen to what the Post's chief political analyst Dan Balz has to say.
"The president's speech Sunday night…was likely to change few minds. His public remarks ever since the terrorist attacks in Paris last month have been off-key and lacking in persuasion," he wrote in a stinging column.
"From his news conference in Turkey a few days after those attacks, when he was thrown on the defensive by a series of questions about the administration's strategy, to his White House remarks the day before Thanksgiving (and less than a week before the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif.) when he said there was no credible threat against the homeland, Obama has been fighting a rear-guard action in the battle for public opinion."
Shortly before the shocking San Bernardino attacks, the president was telling the world that Islamic State terrorists were "contained." Sure.
That reminded many Americans of his preposterous and utterly false claim throughout his re-election campaign that al-Qaeda terrorists were "decimated" and "on the run."
On the day of Obama's Sunday speech, Hillary Clinton said on on ABC's "This Week" that the U.S. wasn't winning the war against ISIS, but said she expected Obama to lay out "an intensification of the existing strategy" that night.
In a tweet written shortly after Obama's remarks, Richard Haas, president of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, said "two things missing from @potus address: intensification of military strategy; preparing Americans for additional domestic acts of terrorism."
A large majority of Americans people aren't buying Obama's flimflam excuses and exaggerated security claims anymore, according to every poll.
The terrorists aren't "on the run" or even near to being "decimated." They have vastly grown in numbers and in their capacity to inflict death and destruction anywhere in the world, including the U.S.
President Obama has underestimated ISIS from the beginning, and, despite what he says, he has no realistic plan to defeat them.
The war on terror will continue until an experienced and effective leader emerges from the presidential election to free the world from this evil, bloodthirsty scourge. Think very carefully when you vote.