Which “Republican establishment” is the tea party rattling?

Though it has become a stock storyline to describe besieged party bosses, those peddling this account have largely created a straw man. The Republican establishment of popular imagination, like the Georgetown salon, no longer exists. If there is a Republican establishment, the Tea Party is it.

The “civil war” McKinnon and others describe implies that party leaders are fighting back. Instead, they’re stepping out in front of the Tea Party parade and pretending to be drum majors.

Who in the supposed Republican establishment has opposed the Tea Party?

Not Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. “If I weren’t chair of the RNC, I’d be out there in the Tea Party movement,” he told Greta van Susteren.

Not House Republican leader John Boehner. “There really is no difference between what Republicans believe in and what the Tea Party activists believe in,” he told radio host Mike Gallagher.