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Stampede

Is the GOP in disarray or has the party finally gotten its momentum back?

5:00 AM, Nov 14, 2005 • By JOHN HINDERAKER
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This is not to say that last week's setbacks are insignificant, or that the outcome of the Byzantine congressional process is likely to be fully satisfactory to conservatives. But the wheel is still in spin, and last week's votes had less to do with a collapse in GOP discipline than has been reported. No one ever seriously thought that Olympia Snowe was a reliable vote for the party or the administration.

Moreover, there are signs of a resurgence in the White House. After months of mutely absorbing blows from Democrats who claim that the president misled them about the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Bush responded last Friday with a forceful speech. Better yet, administration surrogates, including Sen. John McCain, have continued to hit back strongly over the past two days. This argument is a winner for the administration--the Democrats' claims are plainly inconsistent with the facts. And, in any event, President Bush's counter-attack will quickly rally the GOP's base to his support.

Most important, there are signs that Bush's decline in the polls has bottomed out. Some of the polls showing precipitously declining support are obviously flawed, to such an extent as to suggest that they were designed to produce that result. Polls that are administered consistently over time are starting to show a significant rebound in the president's standing. In the >Rasmussen Poll, Bush's approval rating hit its nadir in October, but has rebounded steadily since. Currently, it stands at a respectable 46 percent. More important than the number, however, is the trend: There can be little doubt that the administration is on the upswing. In order of importance, at least three factors have brought the party's conservative base, and some other voters, back into the president's camp: his nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court; his counter-attack against the Democrats on Iraq; and the dashing of the Democrats' hopes for Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Valerie Plame "leak."

That thundering sound in the distance might be a solid phalanx of elephants, on the move once more.

John Hinderaker is a contributing writer to THE DAILY STANDARD and a contributor to the blog Power Line.