On Monday The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza launched a voyage of the imagination --an extremely well sourced essay on what Team Obama thinks a second term would look like. Lizza's article should be mandatory reading for the pundit class, especially those enamored of the idea that all the country needs is some collective group therapy.
I have interviewed both GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP Senate Conference Chair John Thune since the article's appearance, asking each of them for their assessments of the president's recent rhetoric and of the argument being advanced from 1600 Pennsylvania about the vast gulf between the parties.
Both agreed that there is a divide that is large and growing, and a choice that the American people cannot avoid making. Mitt Romney spent a productive week outlining the dimensions of the divide and that which has been obvious to Beltway folk for a while is now on full and indeed unavoidable display for the whole country to see.
This isn't an argument about civility, or about the virtues of bipartisanship. It is a fundamental separation of values and a divide of directions. On this finally there is agreement: The president is taking America on a course far from any it has pursued before and one on which there can be no false "compromise."
Read the Lizza piece and the transcripts of the two interviews. Read as well the transcript of my interview with Lizza, who himself seems uncomfortable with the reality of what he so accurately communicated. (I conducted my half of that conversation from the front porch of Ronald Reagan's ranch, on the 25th anniversary of the Gipper's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech, which may have produced in me determination to hold Ryan to the significance of what he had been told --a channeled "There he goes again" impulse.)
The president ran as a centrist in 2008. He is running now as a hard left, big government Alinskyite, fully committed to the politics and the purpose of the fabled Chicago organizer. The president's "reset" speech in Cleveland yesterday, widely panned even by an admirer as loyal as Jonathan Alter doesn't leave any room for trimming.