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Cheney Doing It Live, Obama Giving Speech About Nothing

5:19 PM, May 20, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Greg Sargent reports that all three cables will carry Cheney's speech tomorrow morning live directly after the president makes his speech. The Democrats have developed a bad habit of elevating Cheney without engaging the substance of his attacks -- the hope being that his low public approval numbers alone are enough to undermine his argument. The strategy has backfired, but the DNC and other elements of the party keep plugging away.

Obama's speech tomorrow is essentially an attempt to bracket the former VP -- it's a campaign tactic, and it has the effect of putting Cheney on equal footing with the president just as it offers the president a chance to respond directly to the merits of Cheney's case against the administration. Maybe Obama will turn the tide tomorrow and regain the initiative in this debate, but given the signals we're getting from the White House, be dubious.

The White House now admits that the decision to close Gitmo in the days immediately after the inauguration was a "hasty" one. Marc Ambinder surmises that Obama "won't say where he expects detainees convicted by courts or military tribunals will end up." Instead,

The message tomorrow from Obama might well be: "trust me."

While Cheney makes the case for an unapologetic war on terrorism, Barack Obama will deliver his plea for trust in the wake of numerous reversals and in the context of an admission that the White House acted too soon. Without answers to any of the questions that Republicans and Democrats are asking, and with the public genuinely suspicious of the president's handling of the narrow issue of detainee policy, the president plans to respond quite literally with a speech about nothing -- just more of the same lofty rhetoric that got him where he is today.