The ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee believes one thing President Obama could do to fix the holes in the US's air security system is to say the word "terrorism" more.
US House Rep. Pete King (D-NY) made the comment to host George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America Wednesday. Discussing the failed Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt, Stephanopoulos asked King: "Name one other specific recommendation that the president could implement right now to fix this."
"I think one main thing would be to -- just himself -- to use the word terrorism more often," King responded.
King and Stephanopoulos were discussing President Obama's declaration that the "system failed" when US authorities failed to stop the attempted attack.
"When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives on Christmas Day, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way," the president said after meeting with his national security team. "The bottom line is this: The US government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack. But our intelligence community failed to connect those dots."
King appears to have taken a recent Republican talking point -- that the president is downplaying the existence of anti-American terrorism -- to an extreme.
Republicans have been critical of President Obama's response to the attempted Christmas Day attack, slamming him for taking several days to issue a statement on the matter, despite President Bush having taken even longer during a similar situation with shoe-bomber Richard Reid in 2001.
The criticism culminated with former Vice President Dick Cheney's declaration that Obama is "making us less safe" by "pretending" there is no war on terrorism.
Ben Smith at Politico suggests that King's statement means Republican critics of Obama's security policy are more concerned about style than substance.
King's first instinct highlights an underlying fact about Obama's counterterrorism policy... It's defined by substantive continuity with the later Bush years — including the move to close Guantanamo — and the most dramatic change has been the deliberate decision to lower the rhetorical temperature. And critics sometimes seem to want a rhetorical shift as much as a practical one.
Other political observers have been much more critical of King.
"Don’t suppose it’s worth pointing out to these morans that the whole point of terrorism is to whip up fear, so having the president go on national teevee and say “terra terra terra” every day is giving al Qaeda exactly what it wants," writes Blue Texan at FireDogLake.
"TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM TERRORISM. You are now ten times safer than you were before you read this post," quips Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent.
The following video was broadcast on ABC's Good Morning America, Wednesday Jan. 6, 2009, and upload to the Web by TalkingPointsMemo.