Washington (CNN) -- By now, top aides to President Barack Obama like Dan Pfeiffer have learned to just tune out the round-the-clock punditry that tends to build up every speech by this commander-in-chief as the pivotal moment in his presidency.
The phrase "stakes are high" has been used so many times for speeches about anything from health care to the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, to the war in Libya that the White House communications director has voted with his remote control.
"My TV is off," Pfeiffer said Wednesday, pointing up at the blank flat screen in his West Wing office. "If you worried about Washington expectation-setting, you'd never get anything done."
And yet here we go again with soaring expectations for Obama's Thursday speech about U.S. policy in the Mideast -- though it's worth noting the president himself brings on some of the attention by trying to pull so much into one address.
As Pfeiffer told me, the president's goal in delivering this speech is to "take it from the Arab Spring through Libya and on to (Osama) bin Laden and put it in context for everyone."
Whoa, that's a lot to chew on in one speech.
Then throw in a section about the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian peace process -- plus attention-getting White House meetings with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Tuesday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday -- and now perhaps you can see why expectations have gotten a bit out of control.
And let's not forget that it was the president who framed this whole issue in such sweeping terms when he went to Cairo to deliver the first-ever "speech to the Muslim world" by a U.S. president.More
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