Mitt Romney probably doesn’t appreciate anything that could be labeled as praise from Carter Eskew and could be used as proof that he isn’t a conservative by his stalker, Rick Santorum. But the fact that Romney’s tax plan is reasonable is inescapable.

Carter is onto something when he suggests that a debate between Romney’s tax plan and what President Obama has done, and what he wants to do, will make a good contrast for a serious debate in the fall.

In fact, despite all the noise and distracting subplots in the Republican nomination contest, several vivid contrasts between the GOP nominee and Obama are emerging from the fog of battle.

In addition to the vivid difference on taxes, Obama’s energy speech yesterday sets up a referendum on gasoline prices.

His budget, announced earlier this year, means there will be real differences on deficit spending, debt growth and budget priorities.

The income inequality slogan that Carter and the Democrats keep using will distill down to whether voters want more or less government-mandated income redistribution. And, of course, Obamacare might as well be in parentheses under Obama’s name on the ballot. Every Republican has made clear that dismantling Obama’s unpopular health-care plan will be an early priority.

But taxes, spending, energy, health care and government growth all appear to be emerging as clear, binary choices for voters in the November.

Other issues will play a role, and something like a war with Iran could change everything. But the 2012 campaign could set up some vivid contrasts on the biggest issues of the day. This is the type of election we need, and I like the way the choices are beginning to emerge.