Hillary Clinton on Monday broke from President Barack Obama in referring to the terrorist attack as “radical Islamism,” countering Donald Trump’s accusations that both she and Obama are weak on tackling terrorist threats.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” on Monday morning, Clinton said words matter less than actions, but that she didn’t have a problem using the term.
“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said. “But if he is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.”
Both terms “mean the same thing,” Clinton continued, adding, “And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”
“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” Clinton said later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” reiterating, “it’s the same.”
This may seem like nothing more than semantics at first, but it is, as Politico notes, a significant break from Obama’s standard “fringe” nonsense after every Islamic terrorist attack. Now that she officially has his endorsement, maybe she can distance herself on a few more things.
She did fall into the reflexive “blah, blah, blah” about not demonizing an entire religion, even though she has no problem whatsoever demonizing Americans who are legal gun owners.
Still, her remarks this morning are a departure, not only from President Obama, but from herself just seven months ago after the Paris attacks.
The bottom line is that we are in a contest of ideas against an ideology of hate, and we have to win. Let’s be clear, though, Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilization, or repeating the specific words radical Islamic terrorism isn’t just a distraction, it gives these criminals, these murderers more standing than they deserve. It actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side.
That’s the generic Obama company line that pretends this supposed radical fringe isn’t as big as it really is. One wonders if Mrs. Clinton and her advisers, like so many other Americans yesterday, realized that this sort of tragedy could actually benefit Trump. I spoke to only three people all day yesterday, none of whom are Trump fans, and all said that some of the electorate could shift his way after an attack like this. After spending the primary season pretending to be to the left of Bernie Sanders on many issues, is she now trying to outflank Trump? It’s not an entirely ridiculous question. The MSM will back her up and reinforce any version of her ideological self her handlers decided to present to the public, no matter how fantastical it may be. She could bounce back and forth between being a hawk and a dove on the subject of radical Islam and no one in the fawning American media will point it out or question her.
The only real question remaining is whether she will pick one approach if elected. America can’t really afford four more years of a commander-in-chief who pretends that our enemies aren’t really enemies.