White House Vows to Hit Back at Adversaries

The response to Dick Cheney's criticism of Obama is the latest example of the hit-back strategy.

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The White House decision to fire back at former Vice President Dick Cheney over national security issues is the latest example of a new West Wing policy of taking on adversaries much more quickly and aggressively.

The goal is to prevent the spread of what Democratic strategists see as false information and unfair charges, and the strategy resembles the rapid-response approach that Team Obama used in the campaign last year.

From now on, White House officials promise to hit back hard when adversaries misrepresent or attack the president, a senior Obama adviser tells U.S. News. The latest manifestation of that strategy came yesterday when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs returned Cheney's fire after the former vice president said Obama is "dithering" in his review of whether to send more troops into Afghanistan. Cheney also said that Obama "seems afraid' to make a decision. Gibbs replied, "What Vice President Cheney calls 'dithering,' President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public. I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously." Democratic strategists add that Cheney is so unpopular with Democratic and independent voters that it's a good idea for the White House to keep him in the spotlight as the public face of the Republican Party.