President Obama made a number of ill-conceived remarks in his press conference Tuesday, but the topper was the one reported by the New York Times regarding the performance of federal investigators in the aftermath of a 2011 warning from Russian intelligence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev — one of the eventual Boston Marathon bombers — was an Islamic radical:

Mr. Obama said that after the Russian warning, federal agents “had not only investigated the older brother; they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity.”

Translation: There is to be no change in our approach — we refuse to acknowledge the causative nexus between Islamic supremacism and the terrorism committed by Muslims. Yes, the agents confirmed that Tsarnaev had adopted the aggressor ideology, but he had not — yet — moved on to aggressive activity. Until activity happens, we take no note of someone’s beliefs … unless they are right-wingers, Second Amendment defenders, or pro-life advocates.

You cannot combat an ideologically driven threat absent an understanding of the ideology and acknowledgment of its catalyzing effects. But President Obama says, no, the FBI shouldn’t take any action until agents have proof that someone is engaging in violent acts – or at least conspiring to do so (since the president favors approaching jihadist terror as a crime, rather than a war, I assume his understanding of “activity” includes conspiracy). This takes us back to September 10th America.

The Bush administration was no stranger to political correctness when it came to Islam, but President Bush and Vice President Cheney were nonetheless steadfast — heroically so, I think — in their determination that jihadist terror was a national defense challenge, not a crime-wave; that the priority had to be pro-active prevention of attacks, not reactive post-attack prosecution; and that this meant the top imperative was gathering intelligence to thwart those who might be inclined to become violent, even if that inevitably meant Leftists and Islamic supremacists would smear the government as “at war with Islam.”

The Obama administration, in stark contrast, is even more determined than was the Clinton administration to frame jihadist terror — oops, I mean violent extremism (wouldn’t want to refer to what causes the violent extremism) — as a crime problem to be managed by post facto indictments.

Imagine if, at the press conference, President Obama just came right out and told us:

Look, I understand that the attacks against us are committed by radical Muslims adherent to a supremacist interpretation of Islam, and therefore that encouraging agents to track Islamic supremacists would help prevent terrorist attacks. But agents could abuse that authority, while progressive journalists and Muslim activists would claim that we are at war with Islam. Weighing these matters, I have decided that terrorist attacks, as much as we condemn them, are the price we must pay to prevent the greater evils of occasional excesses from our investigators and a stream of slanders from my base.

Americans would massively disagree with him, but at least it would be honest.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple images.)