* A very interesting Ed Kilgore post on one conservative’s efforts to reckon with the fact that maybe, just maybe, the GOP needs to figure out how to articulate a legitimate role for government in people’s lives if that “makeover” is going to work.

* House Republicans unanimously vote down a proposal to raise the minimum wage, and the DCCC signals its intention to make this an issue in the 2014 elections. The minimum wage is only one way in which Obama’s second term agenda has broadened the menu of policies Dems can run on next year.

* As Steve Benen notes, Wayne La Pierre needs to resort to flagrant, nonstop lying about the expanded background check proposal in order to construct an argument against it. La Pierre’s fantasy proposal has nothing in common with the sensible reform backed by nine in ten Americans, but without the lies, there is no argument.

* Brian Beutler does us all a service by explaining very clearly exactly what Obama supports in the way of entitlement reform. Yeah, whatever. We all know he only wants tax hikes.

* Jonathan Chait on the moral failure lurking underneath Rob Portman’s evolution on gay marriage, and what it says about the inability of conservatives to genuinely consider policy from the perspective of the disadvantaged.

* Richard Socarides on how the real act of courage in this situation was performed by Portman’s son.

* And a good point from Andrew Rosenthal: Portman is only the latest GOP official to come out for gay marriage in the full knowledge that he no longer has a shot at national office.

* Michael Tomasky says what so few commentators are willing to acknowledge:

When Republicans say Obama needs to show “leadership,” what they mean is that he ought to just embrace the Ryan budget. They really won’t accept anything else. Oh, they might accept $4.4 trillion in cuts over 10 years instead of Ryan’s $4.65 trillion, but that’s about all the compromise they’re up for. We need to remind ourselves of this fact on a regular basis and say it often. There is nothing Obama can do to please them except drop entirely his demand for revenue, which would be indefensible on political and policy grounds.

The most basic outlines of the situation are all too rarely acknowledged. It’s very odd.

* Now that the expanded background check proposal has passed out of committee, this saddles Harry Reid with a difficult decision, i.e., whether to proceed with a bill that includes the “controversial” record keeping piece:

Mr. Reid … may have to decide whether to bring a bill to the floor that cannot pass and let Republicans shoulder the blame for rejecting an effort that most Americans support. Or he could offer a vote on a bill, stripped of its record-keeping provisions, that is far less stringent and perhaps less effective but can get through the Senate, and then see if the House will dare to ignore it.

It’s amazing that we’re at this point, given the universal public support for expanding background checks, but it may end up coming down to the latter option.

* Jonathan Bernstein is good on the degree to which Republicans have created an alternate reality, completely removed from the real world, on Medicare, Obama and spending.

* I’m glad that Jennifer Rubin is telling CPAC that the Republican Party cannot be at war with the American people when it comes to questions of equality and tolerance, and that when it comes to full marriage equality, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

* And Molly Redden, at CPAC, aptly sums up the outreach to minorities on display:

It’s the GOP’s big hope that by talking to Latinos, young people, Asian Americans, fiscally conservative gays and lesbians, and even African Americans (the churchgoing ones), an electorally mighty number of them will come to realize that they are conservatives who just didn’t realize it. The number of times that formulation was repeated—particularly in the form of a Ronald Reagan quotation, “Hispanics are conservatives, they just don’t know it yet” —became too many to count.

What else?