Hillary Clinton
Credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

In responding to Republican charges that she won’t utter the words “radical Islamism,” here is what Hillary Clinton said on CNN yesterday:

“From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say,” Clinton said on CNN’s “New Day.” “And it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him. I have clearly said we — whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I’m happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing.”…

“What I won’t do, because I think it is dangerous for our efforts to defeat this threat, is to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion,” she said. “That plays right into ISIS’ hands.”

Clinton hit Trump by name, saying, “I think that Donald Trump’s rhetoric is quite dangerous to our country.”

The folks at The Plumb Line add this email clarification they received from the Clinton campaign:

She was calling him out. She insisted today that she won’t declare war against an entire religion the way that Trump has, but she isn’t going to let us be distracted with semantic games. The real question is, what’s your plan? And he clearly doesn’t have one.

In other words, she’s calling the GOP bluff on this one. Let’s remember that it isn’t just Donald Trump who is suggesting that simply saying the right words will somehow magically change the equation with ISIS. I’m sure that you would find that most every Republican presidential candidate made that claim at one point during the primaries. What Trump added yesterday to that charge was his own brand of conspiracy theories about President Obama.

The shooting in Orlando last weekend has merely renewed the Republican obsession with words. If you remember, this is the same obsession that fueled much of the conservative hair on fire response to Benghazi…did President Obama call it a “terror attack?”

This morning I decided to check out what some on the right are saying about the importance of using the words “radical Islamism.” So I read an article about it from William Murchison as well as the editorial staff at the Washington Examiner. My goal was to sniff our any rational for how uttering those words would change things. Interestingly enough, Murchison – in contrasting Trump’s rhetoric with that of Clinton and Obama – says this:

Trump likely has no idea how to head off more Orlandos. An embargo on Muslim immigration, such as he has proposed, would not have stopped Mateen, who was born here. But his reading of the public mood seems far better informed than Clinton’s…

He had these decisive words about Islamic terrorism and his political opponents: “If I get in (the White House), it’s going to change, and it’s going to change quickly. We’re going from total incompetence to just the opposite, believe me.”

On the one hand he says that Trump doesn’t have any idea how to prevent more Orlandos, but he has “decisive words” and is going to change things quickly. Not much there.

In an article titled “It’s ‘Islamic terrorism,’ Mr President. You need to say it,” the editors at the Washington Examiner seems much more interested in being angry about any attempt to limit a terrorist’s access to guns than they are about anything else. But when it comes to the importance of the words that are used, here is the sum total of their rationale.

As the Washington Examiner’s Michael Graham noted on the day of the massacre, Obama’s failure even to mention either Islam or the Islamic State in his address to the nation was an embarrassment. It gives the impression that he is not being sincere about what he says.

It seems clear that what is really bothering conservatives is that, by not using their words, Clinton and Obama are refusing to engage in the kind of fear-mongering that is all they have to offer when it comes to countering terrorism. They don’t have a plan…all they have is words. And Hillary Clinton just called their bluff on that.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.