The Teflon President

My latest Bloggingheads appearance, alongside the redoubtable Mark Schmitt, finds me whining (yet again) about the absence of a non-Ron Paul critic of Bush's foreign policy in the GOP field. Daniel Larison, parsing a Washington Post poll, reminds me (yet again) why there isn't one:

The response to question 45 is amazing. Asked of “leaned Republicans” whether Bush is leading the GOP in the right direction or the wrong direction 65% still say he is leading the party in the right direction ... The support for Bush’s party leadership helps to explain why most of the GOP presidential candidates are not heading off in bold new directions. They find themselves confronted with core constituencies that apparently think Mr. Bush has been good for the Republican Party and is doing the right sorts of things for that party, so they have to play along. It is basically inexplicable why all these Republicans think this, but there you have it.

These are numbers from after the start of the pundits' revolt over immigration reform, mind you. It's an axiom of American politics, apparently: Come what may, the base will always like George W. Bush.