The economy is in deep recession, with massive layoffs announced every week; we're faced with war in Afghanistan and Iraq and now must battle a swine flu that threatens to turn into a pandemic, which puts public health at risk and has already caused the European Union to issue a travel warning on visiting the United States and Mexico. And yet what are we talking about? Whether or not Dick Cheney is the leader of the Republican Party.

It's the talk of the town, all over the television airwaves, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is now raising money using Cheney as its foil.

"We need to help him off the national stage and back home to Wyoming. Please take a look at the itinerary we put together and then chip in to get him on a Greyhound bus out of town," reads a recent e-mail soliciting $202, the cost of a one-way ticket from Washington to Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Democrats don't want Cheney off the stage. The more the Democrats can keep Cheney as the topic of conversation, the less we scrutinize President Obama's policies.

Of course, Cheney is only the soup of the day for Democrats. Before Cheney, they wanted to focus on Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Eric Cantor — anyone but Obama.

It's smart politics, well-executed by the DNC. But it also ignores the inconvenient truth that the Democrats own the playing field, controlling the White House and large majorities in the House and Senate. Quite simply, it's their show.

Democrats can use Cheney or whomever else to distract from their proposals of government expansion as the solution to every problem we face, skyrocketing debt or being caught flat-footed on a serious threat to public health (and still without a secretary of Health and Human Services), but sooner or later, voters are going to believe that blaming the GOP when the Democrats are in full control is the political equivalent of crying wolf.