Democratic leaders are embracing the pretzel logic that says America shouldn't fight the Islamic State with U.S. ground troops, not because the U.S. would lose, but because it's supposedly what the terrorist group wants.
To the party of the Left, the military isn't a tool that should be used to smash the jihadis, but is instead a gift the terrorists would use as to recruit more murderers to their ranks if U.S. troops showed up in Iraq or Syria.
But this argument is being cemented in place even as Americans increasingly favor more aggressive action, especially in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks.
Those massacres showed that the Islamic State can reach into western countries and create mayhem. They may also put pressure on Democrats to adjust their strategy as the nation inches toward the election.
But for now, both President Obama and his possible successor, Hillary Clinton, have argued against a ground war, and say their position is designed to keep the terrorists from getting what they want.
"We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria," Obama said Dec. 6. "That's what groups like ISIL want."
Obama added that putting troops into "foreign lands" would let the terrorist group "maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits."
As recently as Saturday, Clinton agreed, saying she also sees sending U.S. troops abroad again as something the Islamic State favors.
On Sunday, she offered a more general argument, tweeting, "We can't go back to a foreign policy that views U.S. boots on the ground as a first choice instead of a last resort."
Those comments follow a pattern among Democrats of arguing that doing anything other than what Obama is doing "plays into the hands of ISIS."
When GOP front-runner Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering America, Obama and others said that's just what the Islamic State wants.
"It's our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently," Obama said. "That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL."
But the Obama administration also opposed middle-ground language from congressional Republicans to add new layers of security to ensure terrorists don't pose as refugees as they enter the United States. Administration officials have also seemed to resist calls to examine social media accounts of people applying for visas.
The White House reacted to the idea of reviewing social media accounts by saying it would need more money to take that step, and didn't explicitly say it would be demanding those funds.
But those sentiments go against a public opinion that's increasingly in favor of more direct action.
In early December, a CNN poll showed that 53 percent of Americans favored the use of ground troops to fight the Islamic State, and six in 10 people disapproved of Obama's prosecution of the fight against the terrorist group.
That poll also said 52 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of independents, and 90 percent of Republicans said the U.S. hasn't been aggressive enough.
In the meantime, Democrats sound mostly like they want to avoid any escalation of fighting at all costs. No matter how many more refugees are forced out, or how many more overseas attacks the Islamic State manages to execute, fighting back is, somehow, just what the terrorists want.
In doing so, Democrats are effectively allowing the Islamic State's supposed preferences dictate U.S. military strategy, to the point where even more aggressive air bombing is out of the question.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said if he were president he would bomb the Islamic State until it's discovered whether "sand can glow in the dark."
Hyperbole aside, Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, didn't like the sound of that one bit, and instead prefers a plan involving the freezing of the Islamic State's social media accounts, and cutting off funding and training for the group.
"Promising to carpet bomb until the desert glows doesn't make you sound strong — it makes you sound like you're in over your head," she tweeted.