Sometimes, though, the shades are pretty extreme.
The Obama vs. Cheney speeches are about as simple as good vs. evil.
No, Cheney's not (yet) a mass murderer. He does, however, want America to travel a road well worn by evil regimes. He champions an evil cause.
No, Obama is far from a saint. He does, however, call on America to remember its nobility.
It's rare to have such a clear choice.
Barack Obama today laid out a broad case for closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and banning the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that have been condemned as torture – while accusing his opponents of wanting to scare Americans to win political battles.
In a grand hall at the US national archives, standing directly in front of original copies of the US constitution and declaration of independence, Obama said the current legal and political battles in Washington over the fate of the 240 prisoners there stemmed not from his decision to close the facility, but from George Bush's move seven years ago to open it...
... , Dick Cheney gave a rebuttal at a conservative Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. The former vice-president defended many of the Bush administration policies Obama is now unraveling, and mentioned either "September 11" or "9/11" 25 times.
Cheney said Saddam Hussein had "known ties" to terrorists, an apparent rehashing of the widely discredited Bush administration effort to link the Iraqi dictator to the September 11 2001 hijackers.
... Obama today said that indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay and the prison's harsh interrogation methods had undermined the rule of law, alienated America from the rest of the world, served as a rallying cry and recruiting symbol for terrorists, risked the lives of American troops by making it less likely enemy combatants would surrender, and increased the likelihood American prisoners of war would be mistreated. The camp's existence discouraged US allies from cooperating in the fight against international terrorism, he said.
"There is also no question that Guantánamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world," he said. "Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al-Qaida that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law."
Calling Guantánamo "a mess, a misguided experiment", he condemned the re-emergence of bitter political fighting over the prison and the future of its 240 inmates.
"We will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue," he said. "Listening to the recent debate, I've heard words that are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country."
... He acknowledged that a number of Guantánamo prisoners could not be prosecuted yet posed a clear threat to the US: those who had trained at al-Qaida camps, commanded Taliban troops, pledged loyalty to Osama bin Laden and sworn to kill Americans.
"These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States," he said.
He pledged to construct a new legal framework to deal with those prisoners, saying that if they warranted long-term detention the decision should be made not by the president alone but with congressional and judicial oversight...One day your children may ask, did you stand with evil or with good.
Now is the time you will determine your answer.