Republicans are telling themselves fables too. One suggests that the “Republican Establishment” is attempting to foist Mitt Romney on an unwilling electorate, just as it “always” forces Republicans to accept moderate, squishy nominees.

The Republican Establishment, like the “international community,” is more of a figment than a reality. Whom did the so-called establishment support in 2008? Do conservative voters believe that Republican elites somehow engineered the selection of the least loyal and reliable Republican in the U.S. Senate? And how did that work exactly? John McCain was considered the frontrunner in early 2007. Yet by the summer he was languishing in the polls and so broke that he was forced to take out loans. Was it the establishment that earned McCain the nomination or was it the fact that Rudolph Giuliani ran a terrible campaign, Fred Thompson never got airborne, and Mike Huckabee undermined Mitt Romney’s Iowa sling-shot strategy?

What about 2000? Did the establishment pick George W. Bush? It might seem so, based on primogeniture. But the comfort with Bush came from the grassroots up, not from the top down. Bush himself acknowledged that he was enticed to run not by fat cats at a private club but by the polls. Yes, he was certainly aided in the money chase by his pedigree. But if money determined the outcome of primaries, we’d have been treated to the nomination of Phil Gramm in 1996.