A False Equivalence

“Dick Cheney, Barack Obama Plan Dueling Speeches,” The Politico exclaims:

President Barack Obama will attempt to regain control of a boiling debate over anti-terrorism policy with a major speech on Thursday — an address that comes on the same day that former Vice President Dick Cheney will be weighing in with his own speech on the same theme.

The dueling speeches amount to the most direct engagement so far between Obama and his conservative critics in the volatile argument over what tactics are justified in detaining and interrogating suspected enemy combatants.

The national security debate — egged on by frequent charges from Cheney that Obama is leaving the country more vulnerable to attack — is the only subject on which many Republicans believe they have been able to gain traction against a popular president and the Democratic majority that now dominate Washington.

Uh, excuse me?

Someone should tell the folks at Politico that Dick Cheney is no longer the vice-president (or, for that matter, the de facto president):

Look, there is no “duel.” Setting these addresses up as some kind of book-end speeches is silly.

President Obama is the Commander in Chief in a time of two wars. He’ll be delivering a lengthy speech about U.S. national security, his recent decisions on matters like Gitmo and military commissions, and where U.S. policy is headed.

Dick Cheney used to hold office, but he’s now a cranky private citizen, who’s taken it upon himself to undermine the current administration. He’ll be speaking at a think tank about how right he thinks he was, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, and why he’d like to see the White House’s decisions fall in line with his own.

One of these speeches is consequential. The other will be delivered by Dick Cheney. He may have been vice president, but compared to Obama’s address tomorrow, Cheney’s thoughts on national security are about as relevant as my thoughts on the issue.

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