Indeed, the very next morning, he took to the White House briefing room for no other reason than to pronounce the event an “act of terrorism.” …

Nonetheless, the president’s nonuse of the word was no big deal. Why then was he so sensitive that he came out the next morning to correct the omission?

Answer: Benghazi, in which the administration had been roundly and correctly criticized for refusing to call it terrorism for so long. …

Here, the linguistic challenge for the president is quite different. What if this turns out to be the work of Islamists? The history of domestic attacks since 9/11 would suggest the odds are about 50-50, although the crude technique and the unclaimed responsibility would suggest a somewhat lower probability.

But if it is nevertheless found to be Islamist, will Obama use the word? His administration obsessively adopts language that extirpates any possible connection between Islam and terrorism. It insists on calling jihadists “violent extremists” without ever telling us what they’re extreme about. It even classified the Fort Hood shooting, in which the killer screamed “Allahu Akbar” as he murdered 13 people, as “workplace violence.”