Mainstream media giants like USA Today and NBC News are reporting yesterday's Republican primaries as the end of the Tea Party.

The headline in USA Today, for example, declared that "Tea Party challengers fall short in primaries," while NBC promoted its story with this gem: "Tea time over: GOP old guard wins big in primaries."

But like the generals who are always re-fighting the last war, the mainstream media's fixation on the Republican "civil war" pitting the GOP Establishment versus Tea Party insurgents is old news.

Tea Party IS the GOP

Two things happened in the nation's capital on Tuesday that tell far more about where the GOP is headed than any of the primaries.

First, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling delivered a speech at the Heritage Foundation titled "A time for choosing" to recall the 1964 speech that launched Ronald Reagan on the road to the White House.

Hensarling called on Republicans to choose Main Street entrepreneurs and small businesses over K Street lobbyists working for crony capitalists. You might want to read that sentence again.

"Whether it is termed public-private partnership, mercantilism, industrial policy, or crony capitalism, regrettably a great deal of economic activity that masquerades today as free enterprise is not," Hensarling said.

"For the sake of our Republic, our movement had best unmask the imposters and come down clearly on the side of free enterprise," he said. Those are not the words of a GOP happily trapped in the clutches of Wall Street financiers.

Mike Lee going there, too

Also on Tuesday, Utah's Sen. Mike Lee penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner that included this statement:

"Too many in Washington have convinced themselves that special-interest privilege is wrong only when the other side does it.

"But not surprisingly, they have not convinced the public. Americans intuitively understand that crony capitalism is not a form of private enterprise; it’s a form of public corruption."

Lee challenged congressional Republicans, saying they "have been complicit in the proliferation of policies that unfairly exclude favored businesses and special interests from having to earn their success on a level playing field. But this pathology of privilege dishonors our history and corrupts our principles."

No going back

Republican voices like Hensarling and Lee are defining the GOP future in the context created by the Tea Party's massive nationwide victory in 2010.

Their influence will grow in the months ahead because they represent the strategic political energy and momentum required to reinvigorate the GOP.

Sooner or later, even the experts in the mainstream media are going to figure this one out. When they do, the Establishment versus the Tea Party meme will be old news.

On today's

Editorial: What if China's military is stronger than America thinks?

EXography: Death toll from Veterans Affairs delays, incompetence climbing.

Watchdog/Luke Rosiak: Federal charity drive employees, contractors fight reforms meant to cut waste.

Columnist/Noemie Emery: GOP relearning how to appeal to Right and Center.

Columnist/Timothy P. Carney: GOP's Jeb Hensarling declares war on corporate welfare.

Columnist/Walter Williams: America's budding tyrants on college campuses.

Op-ed/Sen. Mike Lee: GOP should be the party of the people, not the cronies.

Beltway Confidential/Philip Klein: Gov. Mike Pence sides with hospital lobbyists in Medicaid fight.

PennAve/Susan Crabtree: Secret Service agents accused of ordering 'Operation Moonlight' remain on the job.

Legal Newsline/Heather Gvillo: Rep for future claimants supports deadline for asbestos claims against Garlock.

In other news

The New York Times: Part of memo approving targeted killing of U.S. citizens to be made public.

USA Today: Tea Party challengers fall short in GOP primaries.

NBC News: U.S. sees hand of Boko Haram in Nigeria blast.

Righty Playbook

National Review Online: Castronomically overhyped.

The Weekly Standard: First legalization, then come the lawsuits.

Washington Free Beacon: Shock poll finds liberal media priorities aren't voter priorities.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: Why I lived a completely gun-free life until now.

Lefty Playbook

The Daily Beast: The war over the war on terror.

The American Prospect: Would a softer managerial style have saved Jill Abramson?

The Washington Monthly: The Texas "miracle" that isn't.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: Hillary Clinton's speaking circuit payday ($5 million and counting).

Blog Right

Althouse: Whatever happened to Vox and 538?

Yid With Lid: Charlie Rangel's classless class war.

Wizbang: Michelle Obama says kids should monitor parents for racism.

Blog Left

Talking Points Memo: GOP Establishment fends off "Akin 2.0" candidates in Georgia.

Slate: Why the VA scandal is the real outrage.

Crooks and Liars: Rick Santorum-nominated federal judge kills Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban.