Where is the Big Picture? Why is it not possible for John Boehner or anyone else in this party to articulate for the dumbstruck public watching these dreadful cliff negotiations what the Republican Party stands for? Who speaks for the GOP?

No end of people keep saying of the Republicans that “they” should do this or “they” should do that. Who’s “they”? It is no one. With the Republicans, there’s no “they” there.

Barack Obama is controlling the cliff narrative now because the GOP has no one whose job is counter-narrative. Mr. Obama this week was recycling campaign speeches about the middle class at the Daimler Detroit diesel plant while the GOP has been a Babel of Beltway voices. Don’t any of these senators go to church on Sunday morning, rather than running around television punching the “entitlement crisis” card? …

One issue sits at the center of all this: the Size of Government. Yes, the arcane detail is unavoidable. But what mere voters want to know is whether this means the government or the private sector is going to lead and shape the U.S. economy for a generation. Is “preserving the safety net” now the single most important existential reality in the life of every U.S. citizen, as in Europe, or is the core American idea still about something more exciting than that?