Ed set a low bar for House Republicans when he said their failure yesterday isn’t a “disaster.” And he is surely correct about the political reality of the tea party minority in the House: They are unlikely to vote for any kind of tax increase, even on billionaires. But here’s the larger political reality: Republicans, their brand and the electoral future, are on the road to extinction because of a minority of their members. It is a repeat of the presidential campaign where the primary tail ended up wagging the general election dog. Once again, a small band of extremists is making its party, and now the country, suffer.

Americans aren’t stupid. To avoid the fiscal cliff, they support a balanced plan of new revenues and spending cuts, and they have no problem distinguishing who’s responsible for grabbing the wheel and driving them off the cliff. Radical House Republicans, just days before Christmas, are delivering Americans a huge hit to their 401(k)s — as the capital markets wobble — and a huge tax increase for all Americans. Not very merry.