From Dana Millbank at the Washington Post:
On paper, Obama should be an easy victor in his duel with Cheney; Obama is viewed favorably by about 60 percent of the public, Cheney by about 25 percent. And yet Cheney seems to be winning this fight. Senate Democrats, rebelling against Obama, voted against funding his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Obama himself backed down from his plan to release photographs of prisoner abuse. And he's gone back and forth on whether to prosecute or investigate those accused of authorizing torture.
For the moment, at least, Obama's intellectual arguments can't match Cheney's visceral rage. Even if Cheney can't reverse the new administration's policies, he's building a case for Obama to be blamed if there is a terrorist attack on his watch. Repeatedly yesterday, Cheney boasted that his policies "had everything to do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch."
At the very least, Cheney has gotten the president's attention. After Cheney's speech was scheduled last week, the White House booked an Obama speech for the same time on the same topic. His speech was scheduled to begin at 10:10 a.m., but Obama delayed that until 10:30 -- exactly when Cheney was supposed to speak across town. In the AEI conference room, those awaiting Cheney watched CNN's broadcast of the Obama speech on a projection screen.
The president seemed slightly off his game. He introduced Defense Secretary Robert Gates as "William Gates," confusing his Cabinet member with the Microsoft founder. And he was thrown off by an apparent teleprompter malfunction at the end of his speech. Mostly, though, Obama struck a defensive tone. . . .
In an echo of the with-us-or-against-us theme, Cheney told Obama: "In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground."
Cheney, battling with respiratory congestion, listed the many things that have made him dyspeptic. The "so-called truth commission." The "feigned outrage based on a false narrative" of the opposition. The administration soliciting "applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo." The "euphemisms" he thinks Democrats are using to sanitize terrorism.
"Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer," he growled. "Just remember: It is a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11."
A swift uppercut to Obama's chin! Nine more 9/11 jabs and Cheney was ready for his rubdown.