It’s early in the morning, and so I hate to proclaim the winner of the Best Lead of the Day contest this early. But it will be hard to beat the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger:

If the Obama presidency didn’t exist, we would have to invent it.

At a time when the American people need to make some decisions about the nation’s purpose, along comes Barack Obama to make the choices crystal clear.

It has seemed to me that the U.S. now has to decide which way to go, and this administration clarifies it-will we become a nation of high taxes and a large public sector, or will we go back to our free-market roots, embrace the economic liberty that made us great? Oh, and this question: Do we want to be great? Are we an exceptional nation?

 John McCain would likely have been a pretty good president, but his election would have delayed this debate. Obama’s brought it into focus. Henninger writes:

Barack Obama’s first and biggest clarifier was his health-care plan. With Democratic majorities, it passed. Fair enough; they won the last election. But after a year spent watching the legislation, the American people said they didn’t want a quasi-national health-care system. Support for the plan in the RealClearPolitics average is now 38.3%.

Now the clarifying gods have delivered a gift for the November election, the fight over taxes. Somewhere, George W. Bush must be laughing. Amid 9.5% unemployment, Democrats must deal with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. They are trying to thread this needle by pushing a “middle class” extension through the hole, while impaling “the rich” on a tax spike….

Barack Obama knows that the fight over the Bush tax cuts isn’t about anything as arcane as a cyclical correction or “the deficit.” He understands that taxes define a worldview. Mr. Obama could not have been clearer about this in his early 2009 budget preview, “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise.”

I’d like to add my two cents worth: There are now two Americas, as John Edwards might put it: one that goes to work and earns in real jobs, and one that is dependent on the government, through entitlements or jobs in the public sector.

Coming elections will test their relative numerical strength.