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Volcanoes everybody thought were dead have roiled entire populations.

Microphones can do the same thing. Unexpectedly live microphones lately have provided a picture of a president venomously striking out at Republicans for trying to “nickel-and-dime” his health-care plan and daring them to attack the plan frontally, knowing override of his veto would likely fail. How can Biden sleep through stuff like this? Also, how refreshing that President Obama is finally recognizing that legislative manipulation and sneak-thievery is less desirable than a frank frontal assault.

The nation is in for gut-ripping combat. Look what we know for sure already: The government-shutdown, averted by one scant hour on the second Friday in April, pushed two wars and five Mideast repressions out of the news as it climaxed. And that was rather like the boxing matches so far down on the card that even the most ardent fans don’t care if they get there late. They don’t call those fights “preliminaries” for nothing. We’ve got the debt-ceiling fight coming up, plus the budget for fiscal 2012. Neither side shows any willingness to obey President Lyndon Johnson’s standard appeal to “Come; let us reason together!” Meanwhile Standard & Poor changes its verdict on America’s outlook from “stable” to “negative.”

It’s suspected Speaker Boehner thinks he can get away with supporting raising the debt ceiling. And that casts Mr. Boehner as the star of a joke from the civil-rights ’60s in which the breathless African-American man in Harlem runs out of an alley and asks a passerby, “Did you see which way a group of young demonstrators just went? I’m their leader!”

The Republicans in Congress have the budgetary “nuclear” option at their disposal! Let them know you expect them to use it by sending a message to all 241 GOP House members via the “No More Red Ink” campaign

You are now leaving the solid territory of what we know and entering the flaky field of fantasy. Woody Allen once said Parker Brothers wanted to take his sexual fantasy and turn it into a board game. This fantasy is purely political. What child doesn’t want Mommy and Daddy to quit fighting and be nice? I want to see President Obama and Speaker Boehner announce they’re going to cuff themselves to each other’s wrist and ankle and jump into a freezing Potomac together to symbolize their mutually recognized need to make massive cuts; entitlements, too, that will redound to neither side’s benefit politically.

Quit snickering. Is Martin Luther King the last American allowed to have a dream?

Instead, the president waits for GOP’s Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver a budget proposal, whereupon it gets harpooned as “heartless.” This is beyond disappointing. This is war.

Can you imagine a parent saying, “Doctor, do you really intend to put my child to sleep and then knife into his poor little stomach and remove things?” “Yes, indeed,” says the doctor. “It’s called ‘surgery,’ and your child needs it to save his life.”

In this fantasy, the Democrats are all in a huddle. The quarterback calls the play. “We’re going to say the Republicans want to steal money from the young, the old, the women and the sick so they can give it to their rich friends. Got it? Let’s go; louder and louder.” In other words, the poor have too much money and the rich don’t have enough. That’s what the Democrats want the voters to think Republicans think.

Are our fellow Americans likely to believe that Republicans are driven by the desire to steal from the young, the old, the women and the sick so they can give that money to their rich friends? Apparently one shellacking wasn’t enough. I’m not predicting what they’ll get. I’m proclaiming what they deserve.

In light of America’s debt, it’s a political felony to cry “heartless!” and not give your own non-heartless plan. Accusations of “socialist” abound. When we hear “heartless!” followed by silence, that’s beyond accusation. That’s confession.

In 1928 Al Smith, from the sidewalks of New York, was the first Roman Catholic to run for president. His GOP opponent was Herbert Hoover. In 1928 sophistication was low and anti-Catholic feeling was high, particularly in the South.

The GOP tactic in that race makes today’s Democratic cry of “heartless” look like common courtesy. Pre-modern media in 1928 consisted of newspapers, magazines and not a whole lot of radio. The closest thing to the Internet was whispering campaigns. And the whispers warned that, if Al Smith gets elected, “Mr. Pope is going to come over from Rome and run America.”

Isn’t it enough for the Democrats to claim the Republicans want to steal from the most vulnerable without adding, “so they can give all that money to their rich friends”?

Wouldn’t the GOP in 1928 have been smarter just to warn that a Smith victory would mean that “Mr. Pope would come over from Rome and run America”?

Instead, they couldn’t help themselves.

They kept going and added, “And what’s worse, if Al Smith is elected, Mr. Pope is going to bring Mrs. Pope over to help him!”

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