WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – President Obama hit back hard against critics, led by Donald Trump, for “yapping” about terrorism instead of helping him defeat it.
“There’s no magic to the phrase ‘radical Islam,’” declared Mr. Obama on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a political talking point, not a strategy.”
The president asked, without directly naming the presumptive Republican nominee, “Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?”
“The answer is none of the above,” insisted the commander in chief.
Mr. Obama’s impassioned speech, which also included an update on the Orlando massacre investigation, calls for better gun control and a clear denunciation of Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, came just moments after the president met with 30 top members of his national security team.
And just a few minutes later, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton hammered Trump’s “bizarre” behavior, using similar talking points.
Clinton, carried live on cable news, questioned the logic of how uttering “magic words” like “radical Islam” will “stop terrorists from coming after us.”
The Democratic standard-bearer has admitted she doesn’t have a strong aversion to the phrase but doesn’t understand its absolute necessity as demanded by the political right.
Rather, Clinton argued, “In the end, it didn’t matter what we called bin Laden; it mattered that we got bin Laden.” She continued, “I will not demonize and declare war on an entire religion.”
Top Republicans, most vocally, Trump, see the issue much differently, saying that President Obama and Democrats can’t sufficiently fight ISIS if they refuse to label their deadly ideology appropriately.
On Monday, Trump insinuated that Mr. Obama is purposely soft on terror, saying many times, “There’s something going on.”
Trump responded to Clinton’s speech on Twitter, addressing the LGBT community reeling from Orlando’s Pulse nightclub attack, “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”
Despite differences with the White House over the use of “radical Islam,” national GOP leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have dismissed Trump’s pet project of banning Muslims from entering the United States, noting it violates American principles to impose a religious test on immigrants.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales