Some argue that the President is careful not to use the word "terrorist" because it's a loaded term – one friend argued to me that it's akin to calling someone "racist" – and that he's drawing a contrast with his predecessor, whom Obama thinks was too cavalier in using the word. Obama may love nuanced rhetoric, but it sounds like he's unwilling immediately and unequivocally to denounce the killing of innocent Americans by terrorists.
There's a pattern emerging over the last five years, one which makes the president look like he's unwilling to call it like he sees it – or as we all see it. Common sense tells most people that a bomb designed to kill and maim scores of innocent people at the Boston Marathon is a terrorist act. So is a car bomb ready to be detonated in Times Square. So is a pre-planned attack and murder of our ambassador on 9/11. So is a bomb hidden in someone's pants on a commercial airliner. So is a mass shooting of our soldiers on a domestic Army base.
These are not crimes committed by jealous lovers or deranged mental patients. While we may not know the motivation – whether a political, racial or extremist agenda – or even the identity of those responsible at the time of the attack, clearly these are premeditated acts of violence designed to cause terror in innocent people. That's terrorism, and it's unfair to the victims and their families not to disavow it. As Prime Minister Cameron put it, "We will defeat violent extremism by standing together … and above all by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds." It's time for Obama to start challenging that narrative.