Lieberman’s rhetorical preferences

LIEBERMAN’S RHETORICAL PREFERENCES…. Members of the administration’s National Security Council reportedly intend to move away from rhetoric such as “Islamic radicalism” when discussing national security strategy. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) talked to a far-right news outlet, Newsmax, about his concerns.

Kessler asked Lieberman about the Obama administration’s decision to remove the term “Islamic extremists” from the official U.S. National Security Strategy and use “violent extremists” instead.

“I don’t understand it. I think it’s fundamentally dishonest,” the senator said. “I don’t think it gains us anything in the Muslim world. In fact, I think it probably loses us some support in the Muslim world.”

Putting aside the question of why Lieberman is chatting with Newsmax in the first place, the senator’s concerns aren’t exactly persuasive.

Indeed, they’re not exactly consistent, either. Two years ago this month, the Bush/Cheney administration launched a new effort to change the way U.S. officials communicated on this issue. In fact, Bush/Cheney issued guidelines, entitled “Words that Work and Words that Don’t: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication,” urging officials to stop describing extremists as “jihadists” or “mujahedeen,” and to drop “Islamo-fascism” altogether. “It’s not what you say but what they hear,” the memo said in bold italic lettering.

The memo was distributed widely by federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, explaining to U.S. officials at every level that the rhetoric preferred by far-right activists actually undermines our foreign policy and national security interests.

Lieberman, at the time, wasn’t complaining to conservative websites.

The Connecticut senator has even positioned himself to the right of former Bush aides. Karen Hughes recently conceded, “We ought to avoid the language of religion. Whenever they hear ‘Islamic extremism, Islamic jihad, Islamic fundamentalism,’ they perceive it as a sort of an attack on their faith. That’s the world view Osama bin Laden wants them to have.”

Lieberman thinks adopting smarter language “loses us some support in the Muslim world”? That’s absurd.

He’s much closer to being right when he concedes he doesn’t “understand it.”