Speaking of 1996, Dole won the primaries because his opponents — Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes — were not perceived as presidential and carried only six states between them compared with 44 for the winner. (Memo to file: Find better candidates.)
In 1988 and 1992, the Republican Party nominated George H. W. Bush. Was that the work of the establishment or of Ronald Reagan, who elevated Bush by choosing him as VP?
This year, most of the Republican field is strongly conservative. But some disgruntled conservatives are convincing themselves that Ron Paul is a more authentic conservative than Mitt Romney. Really? On the one question that ought to define a candidate’s seriousness — grappling with entitlements — Paul is trafficking in fairy tales while Romney has proposed far-reaching reforms. Campaigning in Iowa, Paul told voters that we “don’t have to give up” any of the ruinous entitlement programs. It would all be made affordable, he explains, by waving the magic wand of drastic defense cuts (which is false). Romney, by contrast, along with the other Republican candidates, has proposed changing Medicare to a premium-support model and returning Medicaid to the states.
There is no shortage of fable peddlers in an election year. But the voters have to shake off their own misconceptions, as well. We have seen the establishment and it is us.