The Base Eats Its Islamophobic Crumbs

You wouldn’t figure conservative activists had found too much to get them excited in Mitt Romney’s performance last night. But these birds are hungry for any crumbs, as illustrated by this take from Neil Munro at the Daily Caller:

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney identified “jihadists” as the enemy facing the United States in the Middle East, marking a sharp rhetorical contrast with U.S. defense policy in place since 2001.

“We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the — the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism,” Romney said, highlighting the link between Islam and terrorism….

In contrast, former President George W. Bush labelled the 9/11 attackers “terrorists,” which downplayed their specific connection to a violent Islamic extremist ideology. For the rest of his term, Bush described the U.S. counterattack as a “war on terrorism.”

In 2009, President Barack Obama changed the rhetoric to label the attackers “violent extremists.” Conservative critics of the president said this shift in language further downplayed the role of fundamentalist Islamic preachers and militia commanders in spurring the attacks on U.S. soldiers and diplomats in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

So it’s grounds for celebration when the GOP nominee gets some Islamophobia into his message. None of that “Islam is a religion of peace” crap like W., who had obviously been listening too much to Grover Norquist and thought he could win Michigan with the Muslim vote.

Munro didn’t note, however, that when the candidates were asked last night to identify the single most important security threat to the country, it was Obama who said “terrorist networks” while Romney said “nuclear Iran.” But Mitt did work in a reference to “the mullahs,” so perhaps that was enough for conservatives who want their own religious jihad in the Middle East.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.