Ed Driscoll

E.J. Dionne Misses It By That Much

Presumably E.J. didn’t write the headline for his latest op-ed, because there’s a distinct headline/lede non-agreement. The headline says, “The GOP establishment’s Rick Perry problem.” But the lede states:

The Republican establishment is said to have grave qualms about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. Here’s the problem: There is no Republican establishment. It squandered its authority by building up the Tea Party’s brigades and then fearing them too much to do anything to check their power.

Missed it by that much.

E.J. is right that “There is no Republican establishment.” The problem is, there hasn’t been for quite some time, long before the Tea Party arrived and replaced neocons as the chief bogeyman haunting the minds in the Washington Post bullpen.

As Jonathin Tobin rhetorically asked at Commentary on Tuesday, “What Republican Establishment?”

One of the key pieces of conventional wisdom about the Republican presidential race published in the mainstream media is the GOP “establishment” is leery of Rick Perry​ and is far more comfortable with Mitt Romney. That may be the case with some people in the party. Certainly, it sums up the feelings of some quoted in a New York Times analysis published yesterday about the unhappy “establishment.” But it begs the question of who exactly comprises that shadowy faction these days.

George Will provided the best answer to that question a few weeks ago when he pointed out on a segment of ABC’s “This Week” there had been no real Republican establishment for nearly half a century:

There is no Republican establishment. In 1966 its house organ — the Republican establishment’s – the New York Herald-Tribune died. The establishment itself died two years earlier in Cow Palace in San Francisco with the nomination of Barry Goldwater.”

Will is right. For decades, control of the Republican Party, which was once largely governed by a moneyed elite, has been contested by a variety of factions. When successful, the GOP has won with a diverse coalition of fiscal conservatives, conservative Christians and foreign policy hawks with many Republicans identifying with more than one of these loose groupings.

The idea any set of politicians in Washington or anywhere else is the “establishment” of the party simply flies in the face of reality.

Read the whole thing, since very few at the Washington Post ever will, even though Will is on their payroll.