08/03/2007 07:43 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Should We Bomb Mecca? The New GOP Litmus Test

The '07 election season, as much as the '08 to come, has involved a string of back-to-back-to-back primaries. We've had the Announcement Speech Primary. The Money Primary. The God Primary. The last few weeks we've been having the Talk Primary. At least on the Democratic side, the questions have been "Should we talk to our enemies?" "Should we have preconditions?" "What should we wear?"

But along comes Tom Tacredo to remind us that the GOP may still be locked in a Hate Primary. Tancredo, tired of pandering to Latinophobes over the threat of illegal immigration, has turned to pandering to Islamophobes over terrorism. He said on Tuesday in front of thirty people in Iowa that if we are attacked by Islamic terrorists, we should respond by bombing Mecca.

"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina," the GOP presidential candidate said. "That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent or you will find an attack. There is no other way around it. There have to be negative consequences for the actions they take. That's the most negative I can think of."

Let's repeat: We. Are Not. At War. With Islam. Even George Bush has repeatedly stressed this distinction in our struggle with Islamic extremists. So here's a challenge: How about every Republican candidate for president get asked in the coming days whether he agrees with Tom Tancredo: Should we consider bombing Muslim holy sites in response to an Islamic terrorist's attack against us? After all, the "terrorists" in Iraq bomb their rivals' holy sites all the time. And look how well it's worked there.

Update: Late Friday, Tancredo's spokesperson, Bay Buchanan (!), defended Tancredo's remarks. "This shows that we mean business," said Buchanan, a senior Tancredo adviser. "There's no more effective deterrent than that. But he is open-minded and willing to embrace other options. This is just a means to deter them from attacking us."