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Imagine a panel of eighteenth-century physicians with a royal patient who has a persistent fever and a hacking cough. Learned doctor Newt Gingrich wants to bleed three pints, learned doctor Richard Gephardt one. Doctors Bill Clinton and Bob Dole want to split the difference at a quart, but they can't decide which of them should make the incision. The next day the patient has acute pneumonia; the following day he dies and the kingdom goes into mourning.

That is what our political debate increasingly resembles. Led by the politics-is-a-game media, we have defined American politics along a single left-to-right dimension. We know that the new conservatives of the House of Representatives are on the right and the old liberals of the Kennedy-Johnson tradition on the left. And the votes are in the middle, so that's where President Clinton and ex-senator Dole have gone. The middle of the road may be mathematically equidistant from the right and the left, but the symbolic middle toward which both candi