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Christmas Day attack: How tough is Obama on terrorism?

Conservatives say President Obama is not aggressive enough against terrorism. Liberals say he's little different from Bush. How he handles the fallout from the Christmas Day attack could show who is right.

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Two days had passed before President Obama gave a televised statement about the failed attempt to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day.

And even now, two months after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire in Fort Hood, Texas, reportedly yelling “Allahu Akbar” as he killed 13 people, Mr. Obama refuses to call it an act of terrorism.

It is a reserve that has come to characterize Obama’s year as president – and offers a stark contrast to the “go get ‘em, boys” style of President George W. Bush.

But as critics pounce on the White House’s handling of the Christmas Day attack by a Nigerian who claims to have been trained by Al Qaeda, the question of Obama’s calm style has become a question of his substance.

Who is Obama, really?

Is Obama, as many conservatives say, someone who has fundamentally shifted American security priorities from Bush’s offensive “war on terror” to a passive emphasis on legal process and law enforcement?

Or is he simply following Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim to “speak softly and carry a big stick”?

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