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.
Good, and enough of the old school liberals who want to tut-tut their way past the consequences of the president's full throated demands for an acceleration of the assault on the private sector and still more expansion of the national government. They treat the president as though he doesn't believe what he is saying, as though the "private sector is doing fine" line was a Biden-like burp of incoherence.
He does believe it, and yesterday's marathon oration of cliches wrapped around the theme of more-money-for-the-government is Exhibit 1,000 in evidence of his intent. The president wants it all, and if he wins he will demand it.
It is tiresome beyond belief to have the president's MSM protectors daily trying to undo the president's meaning, like so many Penelopes waiting for their Ulysses to get home. He means it. He says it again and again. What is it that compels so many of his apologists to attempt to air brush the man's every public appearance of the meaning of his words?
Only this: They know it is a loser. They know this is not how the left advances. They know that letting President Obama be President Obama means letting him be former President Obama.
This is the next five months: The president saying what he wants, Mitt Romney hearing him clearly, repeating the message and saying "No!" and the president's handlers and accomplices trying to hold hands over the country's ears and shouting "We can't hear you" loud enough and long enough in the vain hope of changing the subject.
The job of Team Romney is to keep clearing a path for their candidate to the microphones. That's it. Mitt Romney knows we have to make a U-turn and we won't get a second chance. It was the same choice in Wisconsin, and it isn't going to change.
Nothing could be more clear, more stark, more consequential. Voters have to choose.