I don't always agree with Peggy Noonan, and indeed, I don't even agree with everything she says in this column. But I agree with her larger points, which are very well stated:
"What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration... What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them... This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.
"The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain... This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place."
Continuing: "The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they 'don't want to do what's right for America.' His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, 'We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up.' On Fox last weekend he vowed to 'push back.' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want 'mass deportation.' Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are 'anti-immigrant' and suggested they suffer from 'rage' and 'national chauvinism.'"
Noonan: "I suspect the White House and its allies have turned to name calling because they're defensive, and they're defensive because they know they have produced a big and indecipherable mess of a bill."
She concludes: "Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party."
The big question is: how will we do it?
A related note of interest: the Republican National Committee has fired all of its telemarketers...it seems there's just not enough money coming in to justify keeping them on, due to "a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy."