Rove and the Base

John Dickerson:

In retirement, Rove will have a willing audience among his party's faithful. Though the president has lost his shine among some die-hard conservatives, Rove largely hasn't—despite being the architect of the push for comprehensive immigration reform. Even after the 2006 losses, conservatives were saying it wasn't Rove's fault, but the fault of a corrupt, confused GOP congressional leadership. Conservatives also need Rove to survive as a guru. While Republicans are momentarily depressed, it doesn't come from a fundamental conundrum about their party's core beliefs. Many just think that circumstances, a poorly managed war, and a distracted president harmed the execution of GOP policy.

I don't know about this. Inside the beltway, an awul lot of conservatives are sour on Rove (as Josh's essay bears ample witness), with the purists viewing him as having sold small-government principle down the river and the pragmatists holding him at least partially responsible for the '06 defeat. As for the broader "movement," my sense is that the feeling toward the Architect runs from mild affection to irritation (see Michelle Malkin's reaction to his resignation) to indifference (see Ed Morrisey's rejoinder to Malkin's post), with none of these sentiments burning terribly bright. It's worth remembering that pro-Bush conservatives have traditionally tended to downplay Rove's role in the administration and scoff at the whole "Bush's brain" theory (see, for instance, K-Lo's instant reaction this morning); this means, in turn, that Rove's reputation as a world-historical figure has always been more inflated on the left than on the right.