This guy’s career really can’t end soon enough.

The Obama administration’s fear of offending Muslims will hurt the U.S. war against terrorism, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Thursday in a speech blasting the president’s new counterterrorism strategy.

Lieberman said that Obama’s strategy, which was released in June, “was ultimately a big disappointment,” and while it successfully identified the core of the domestic radicalization problem, it did not establish a clear plan of attack to deal with the growing issue.

The four-term senator and one-time presidential candidate said one of the key problems with the Obama administration’s strategy was that it continues to call terrorism that aims to harm the U.S., “violent extremism” instead of “violent Islamist extremism.”

No, seriously, that’s what he said. Apparently borrowing four-year-old text from Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lieberman argued at the National Press Club this morning, “The administration still refuses to call our enemy in this war by its proper name: violent Islamist extremism.”


Let’s just note two relevant angles here. First, the Obama administration doesn’t connect religion and terrorism, but neither did the Bush/Cheney administration, and Lieberman loved those guys. Indeed, in their second term, Bush/Cheney issued guidelines, entitled “Words that Work and Words that Don’t: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication,” which sought to change the way U.S. officials communicated on this issue.

Karen Hughes, one of Bush’s closest aides, explained, “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.”

If Lieberman didn’t whine about Bush-era counter-terrorism rhetoric — and he didn’t — he has no reason to complain about the Obama administration’s choice of words.

Second, and more importantly, Lieberman’s timing makes him look pretty ridiculous, since rhetoric is far less significant than results. Under Obama, al Qaeda has been reeling, to the point that the network is now starting to crumble. Just last week, U.S. forces killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, al Qaeda’s #2 leader. It comes on the heels of U.S. forces killing Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda financial chief Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and al Qaeda spiritual leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, among others.

And that’s just al Qaeda. Under the Obama administration, the counter-terrorism successes go even further. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s top military commander, was captured. High-profile terrorists have been killed — Hakimullah Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan — while many more have been arrested — Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi.

Despite all of this, Joe Lieberman feels justified in whining about Obama’s counter-terrorism efforts? Seriously? In effect, Lieberman is saying, “Sure, you’re crushing al Qaeda, but if you’re not using the words I like, I’m unimpressed.”

He has to be able to think of something else to complain about. Even for Lieberman, this is just pathetic.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.