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The yapper falls silent

The real Obama versus Dick Cheneyt's caricature

Over the past 24 hours, high-profile conservatives have been lavishly praising President Obama's Nobel Prize speech - everyone from Newt Gingrich ("very historic") and Sarah Palin ("I liked what he said") to ex-Bush aide Bradley Blakeman ("it was truly an American president's message to the world") and ex-McCain campaign adviser Robert Kagan ("muscular moralism, a la Truman and Reagan").

But one prominent conservative has been conspicuously, shamelessly silent. That would be America's most crochety rottweiler, Dick Cheney.

Cheney has been yapping incessantly about Obama (or, to be more precise, about his own fevered caricature of Obama). He yaps, mostly within the friendly confines of the conservative media, about how Obama projects "weakness," about how Obama gives "aid and comfort to the enemy," about how Obama "travels around the world apologizing" for America, about how Obama "doesn't fully understand or share that view of American exceptionalism that I think most of us believe in."

But then Obama goes to Norway yesterday, and, with apparently no qualms about discomfiting his left-leaning audience, he delivers a speech that projects strength, calls out America's enemies, defends American military might, endorses a broad definition of a "just war," and lauds American exceptionalism.

Obama said, "Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans."

Among other things, he also said, "Make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason...the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace."

He also said, "There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified...I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace."

He also said that, while Gandhi and King deserve praise for their docrtines of non-violence, "as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people."

Yet in the 24 hours since that speech was delivered, not a sound has emanated from the secret undisclosed location.

If Dick Cheney had even a modicum of class and grace, by now he would have publicly acknowledged that the Obama on display yesterday bore no resemblance to the Obama of his own cartoon construct; and that, with the exception of the passages about torture and Guantanamo, virtually everything that Obama said could easily have been said by the guy whom Cheney ostensibly worked for.

So here's a modest proposal: Unless or until Cheney finally demonstrates that he's man enough to admit error, he should give us a break and shut his yap.