Flashback: Obama’s Attack on Trump Contrasts His 2008 ‘Just Words’ Rhetoric

President Barack Obama (L) speaks on the Orlando shooting at the Treasury Department while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford (R) look on, on June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images
Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama ridicules the GOP’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s assertion that a president cannot begin to protect Americans until he brings himself to say the words: “Radical Islam.”

“There’s no magic to the phrase “radical Islam.” It’s a political talking point; it’s not a strategy and the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism,” the president said.

“Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction,” he said.

Clinton, now Obama’s anointed successor, joined in the day’s one-two punch.

“It matters what we do, not just what we say,” she said.

“First he is fixated on the words radical Islam. Now I must say, I find this strange. Is Donald Trump suggesting that there are magic words that once uttered will stop terrorists from coming after us?”

But, what about in those heady days, now passed?

In the 2008 presidential campaign candidate Barack Obama told Democrats that words matter—after his rival Hillary Clinton dismissed him at being all rhetoric, no action.

Speaking to a Feb. 16, 2008 event sponsored by the Wisconsin Democratic Party in Milwaukee, the future president said the words politicians use are very important. “Don’t tell me words don’t matter: ‘I have a dream,’ just words? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,’ just words? ‘There is nothing to fear, except fear itself,’ just words?’”

Watch candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) defend his words:

In the race for the 2008 nomination, Clinton’s attack on Obama was two-pronged. First, she mocked him for his hopeful speeches. It was an attack that betrays how Obama was able to sneak up on her, since her husband President Bill Clinton had built a rhetorical cottage industry playing off his hometown of Hope, Arkansas and thus being “The Man from Hope” and how much he “still believed in a place called Hope.”

After Obama defended himself in Milwaukee, Clinton quickly countered with tapes of Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick making the same argument with literally the exact same words, examples and cadence.

If Clinton missed the chance to bop Obama for plagiarizing her husband’s Hope franchise, at least then she was nailing him for directing lifting from Patrick’s 2006 election campaign.

But, 2008 was not her year. The mainstream press was all in for Obama and what turned out to be her last serious attack on a pulling away Obama never gained traction.

Of course, it did not help Clinton, when Obama pointed out that his campaign gurus, specifically, David Plouffe and David Axelrod, were the same men who ran Patrick’s campaign– a campaign that in many ways was the field test for Obama’s 2008 run.

Obama’ defense was simple: How can I plagiarize when my writers were his writers?

Remarkably, in less than a week after formally joining the campaign as Clinton’s Surrogate-in-Chief, Obama is already put off kilter by Trump.

Obama refuses to mention his name as he riffs on the GOP’s presumptive nominee, making him the man is was not there, but absolutely was.

Meanwhile, Trump continues on his own campaign, one based more on speeches that field operations, surrogates or even paid advertising.

Maybe, it is Trump, who is now learning from Obama, who said in 2008: “It is true speeches don’t solve problems, but it is also true that if you cannot inspire the country to believe again—it does not matter how many plans or policies we have—and that is why I am running for President of the United States.”