A day after President Obama went on a rant about why he doesn't use the phrase “radical Islam," CNN asked if the leaders, like Hillary Clinton who have used the phrase, have undermined U.S. strategy. What should’ve been a relatively straightforward briefing on the threats posed by ISIS turned into a tirade against Republicans and Donald Trump from the president. He also used it as a staging ground to lecture us about reinstating the so-called assault weapons ban and confirming a treasury nominee that’s been held up for over a year.
Yesterday, CNN’s Michelle Kosinski pressed the White House on the president’s meltdown, asking why does the Obama White House get so defensive when people criticize him, and members of his administration, for not saying a phrase that accurately describes the threat we face from these organizations, as they are adherents to radical form of Islam. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that it doesn’t help in our strategy against ISIS, saying it helps the terrorists, and if the GOP wanted to be tough of terrorists—they should strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights based on a secretive, due process-absent government list that places those individuals on said list based mere suspicion. Moreover, Kosinski pressed Earnest by asking whether French President François Hollande and Hillary Clinton have undermined U.S. anti-terror strategy for using the phrase in various statements and speeches (via Free Beacon):
“Does the president, or you as well, not see a distinction, though, between calling what happens Islam and calling certain acts radical Islamic terror?” Kosinski asked. “I mean, some people would say what’s the difference, and if you’re getting specific enough to call something radical Islamic terror when it clearly is, why is that such a big deal?”
Here’s the problem, Michelle,” Earnest said. “The counterterrorism strategy articulated by Republicans is that the president should utter the magic words to defeat ISIL. That’s their strategy, and the president says, let’s define our enemy, and let’s make sure we define our enemy precisely. Our enemy is not the religion of Islam. Our enemy are radical, violent extremists that seek to pervert Islam and seek to advance a narrative that they are representing Islam in a war against the West. That’s false. That’s a myth. That’s not true.
“So the question really is, why aren’t those Republicans in Congress actually focused on things that aren’t just magic words, but are a tangible contribution to our homeland security? Let’s close the no-buy-no-fly loophole … Let’s hire 200 additional ATF officers. Let’s pass an AUMF that actually authorizes the commander-in-chief and our men and women in uniform to win this war against ISIL … Time and time and time again they refuse, because they think that somehow the magic words are somehow more important.”
“Are you sure that anyone sees these magic words as a strategy, though, and they’re not just pointing out the fact that the president hasn’t wanted to say them for a very long time? Even though others have, including Hillary Clinton?” Kosinski asked. “It just seems like when he talks about people painting this with a very broad brush, it seems maybe as if you’re painting this with a broader brush than some of those critics mean from the beginning.”
“What other critiques have those critics offered in terms of fighting ISIL?” Earnest shot back. “They haven’t. This is the thing that they constantly come back to. I’m not the one who constantly brings up radical Islamic extremism. That’s not me.”
Are they then undermining values and strategy?” Kosinski asked.
“I haven’t heard them criticize the president for not using the magic words, and I think that’s the point,” Earnest said.
No one is saying that if we just say radical Islam, our current plan to defeat global terrorism would work. That’s absurd. This is about accurately describing the threat posed by these groups. When a terrorist opens fire in a public forum, shouts “allauh Akbar,” and later electronic evidence points to radicalization by extremist groups, like ISIS, then it’s pretty clear that the terrorist was a radical Islamic terrorist. This dancing around the term because it somehow helps with their narrative is ridiculous. If we don’t say radical Islam, they won’t attack us. If we close down Gitmo, the terrorist won’t attack us. If we pass a so-called assault weapons ban, the terrorists won’t be able to buy firearms to kill us. It’s the gross naiveté of liberals. And in part, it makes no sense for Obama to be doing this. Based on what we know, the use of drones, the kill list he maintained and personally approves for those strikes, the increase in military assets to the Middle East to fight ISIS—he knows the threat. My god, not even Bush had a personal kill list.
If ISIS wants to use footage of our leader saying radical Islam to recruit—fine—chances are we’ll find those recruits and kill them. And then we’ll kill them some more. Will there be an end in sight? That remains to be seen. There’s a reason why folks at DoD call this fight the long war. In the meantime, at the very least, the folks driving current anti-terror policy can (and should) describe the threat we face as one pose by those who are radical Islamists. After all, at some level, I think the Obama White House knows this to be true.
Kosinski then asked why did the president engage in a political counterattack during yesterday’s ISIS briefing. CNN’s Jake Tapper had a rather damning observation: the president has zero confidence that the inauthentic, scandal-plagued, pre-packaged Hillary Clinton isn’t able to deliver knockout blows against Trump and the GOP.