Sometimes our national conversation comes off paltry—how much did Sarah Palin pay for the suit and pumps?—and sometimes it turns substantive, even sublime. Today we find ourselves often in the latter mode (bluster over the iPhone’s controversial antenna or the pace of the Obamas’ vacation aside). Dominating the national conversation are mid-term elections, taxes, rising healthcare costs, unemployment benefits, energy policy in the wake of an oil disaster, the conduct of war, safety for children in the womb—in short, important issues that matter to most of us.

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