You can sort of figure out what John Boehner meant with his immortal line just now, "The bigger the government, the smaller the people." Government is the enemy, Americans stand tallest when standing on their own two feet, free enterprise is freedom's friend, and so on.
Boehner has seemed like a reasonable, public-spirited guy, put in an awkward situation by the lean-and-hungry Eric Cantor and his troops. This cannot be a performance he'll be proud of. Let's hope we look back on this as a low point before the "of course they eventually had to make a deal" resolution. And not as the evening when we realized that we actually had joined the Third World.
PS: Oh, yes, about the President's speech. I thought he made a perfectly fine, reasonable case for a balanced approach and the need for compromise. But I've thought from the start that some compromise solution was the only one. (For instance.) We'll see whether tonight's performance changes anyone's mind. My hopes are lower than they were an hour ago.
UPDATE: Jonathan Cohn has noted that the world's tallest people live in the Netherlands, home of the big-government welfare state.