So why would he talk like one?
On Fox News Sunday this week, Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod spoke with Chris Wallace about nuclear non‐proliferation, saying, among other things:
[President Obama] wants in the next four years to lock up the loose nuclear weapons that are scattered around Eastern Europe, that could fall into the hands of terrorists. And, of course, that is the big threat. That’s why we have to step up the pace. This represents an existential threat and we need to meet it.
Controlling any loose nukes is important, but the chance of them being used by terrorists is exceedingly small, and it is not an existential threat.
For too long, U.S. national leaders have perpetrated the error of speaking about terrorist threats as “existential” when they are not. Talking this way needlessly riles the U.S. public and thrills would‐be or wannabe terrorists the world over. When U.S. leaders donate awesomeness to terrorism, the disenfranchised simply have to join a terror group or make empty threats to impact our discourse, policy, and quality of life.
David Axelrod didn’t need the makeweight argument of terrorist access to justify controlling loose nukes.
(Axelrod’s error was made on the road, from a different time zone. To damn him with faint praise, he comes up looking pretty good compared to Newt Gingrich, who issued spectacularly inconsistent positions from the comfort of the Fox News studio: Gingrich first criticized the Obama Administration for avoiding “war on terror” rhetoric, then sought small‐government credibility by criticizing Obama’s budget as the largest non‐wartime increase in history. There is no such thing as a limited‐government war‐monger, and Gingrich should not modulate between treating the country as “at war” or “not at war” within a single television appearance.)