AJ-Strata has followed up on his original post.
He correctly notes that Bush has doen a lot more for conservatism than Reagan has. His thanks was to be pilloried by self-appointed commissars, and it turned a lot of moderates off while convincing enough conservatives to sit 2006 out to "teach the GOP a lesson".
As such, the candidates of choice for the commissars are way behind the pack. The three major contenders are Rudy Giuliani, arguably to the left of 95% of the GOP on social issues; John McCain, who has routinely poked the hard right in the eye; and Mitt Romney, a recent convert. Irish Pennants also talks about this apparent shift by rank-and-file Republicans.
When they piled on good people who were willing to serve their country like Colin Powell, Harriet Miers, Julie Myers, and even President Bush, and got the Congressional GOP to go along, they ticked off a lot of people. They literally banked that a focus on social conservatism could bring home 2006.
They failed, and now they must pay the price for that failure. Unlike those who failed Ernst Salvo Blofeld, they will not be dumped into a pond full of piranhas or blown away by a semiautomatic pistol. Instead, the GOP will make it very clear that their issues are no longer on the front burner.