Judging by the irate emails being received over at National Review Online, it looks like the conservative movement could be undergoing a much needed pruning, with the real conservatives reasserting themselves in the party and the swooning "Bush is so handsome and strong" crowd sputtering off into incoherency.
This is not a conservative president. I'm a Christian first, and a conservative second. Somewhere down around 53rd on the list is "Republicans Uber Alles cheerleader." I feel no obligation to support a liberal president just because he has an "R" after his name. I'm not interested in participating in some sort of cult of personality. I support Bush insofar as he's conservative, which is to say not much these days. And any real conservative worth his salt ought to feel the same way.
If President Bush's legendary arrogance gets the best of him, he will use the Miers withdrawal as a reason to permanently estrange himself from the conservative base of the Republican Party. If, on the other hand, this incident knocks some sense into him and he begins to realize that the conservative voters who elected him would like to see him include some actual conservatism in his governing, it could be a truly vital boost to the Republican Party.
We'll see. But mark this: Bush has nobody to blame for his sputtering presidency but himself. What kind of fool uses the lowest ebb of his popularity as a launching point for attacking his base? If the next pick stinks as badly as this one did, true conservatives will scream just as loud, and Bush will again be left in the smoldering wreckage. If he sulks (as he is said to be capable of), his presidency will be effectively over. But if he embraces the fight and names a truly conservative star to the Supreme Court, his presidency can be revitalized. The choice is his. Past history tells me not to be too optimistic.