The Times' lead story Sunday by Carl Hulse and Jim Rutenberg once again characterized conservative opposition to Bush's immigration bill as vitriolic and angry, even in the headline: "President's Push on Immigration Tests G.O.P. Base - Conservative Anger Rises."
(Conservatives were already "livid" according to the Times two weeks ago, so they must be even madder now.)
"President Bush's advocacy of an immigration overhaul and his attacks on critics of the plan are provoking an unusually intense backlash from conservatives who form the bulwark of his remaining support, splintering his base and laying bare divisions within a party whose unity has been the envy of Democrats.
"It has pitted some of Mr. Bush's most stalwart Congressional and grass-roots backers against him, inciting a vitriol that has at times exceeded anything seen yet between Mr. Bush and his supporters, who have generally stood with him through the toughest patches of his presidency. Those supporters now view him as pursuing amnesty for foreign lawbreakers when he should be focusing on border security.
"Postings on conservative Web sites this week have gone so far as to call for Mr. Bush's impeachment, and usually friendly radio hosts, commentators and Congressional allies are warning that he stands to lose supporters - a potentially damaging development, they say, when he needs all the backing he can get on other vital matters like the war in Iraq.
This week, after Mr. Bush's suggestion that those opposing the Congressional plan 'don't want to do what's right for America' inflamed conservative passions, Rush Limbaugh told listeners, 'I just wish he hadn't done it because he's not going to lose me on Iraq, and he's not going to lose me on national security.' He added, 'But he might lose some of you.'
"Such sentiments have reverberated through talk radio, conservative publications like National Review and Fox News. They have also appeared on Web sites including RedState.com and FreeRepublic.com, where postings reflect a feeling that Mr. Bush is smiting his own coalition in pursuit of a badly needed domestic accomplishment, and working in league with the likes of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a co-author of the legislation."
Along with all the conservative labels, would it have killed the Times to write "the likes of liberalssuch asSenator Edward M. Kennedy"?
Hulse and Rutenberg soon followed that statement with more conservative labels: "The Republican and conservative critiques on the Internet are not so polite. 'Bush has turned on his own people, his political supporters,' wrote a visitor to a message board on the conservative Web site FreeRepublic.com."