Sleepy-eyed people inside the Beltway may see L. Brent Bozell at the top of the Sunday Outlook section in The Washington Post and think the world's turned upside down. But the Post asked Brent to write a message to John McCain from conservatives. Message: "Think real conservatives will vote for John McCain? Don't count on it." It means don't take us for granted.
But on the Post website Sunday morning, a slightly different version emerged on the home page, as if Brent said McCain was toast: "If you think real conservatives will vote for John McCain, think again." Here's the thesis of Brent's article:
I know the conservative movement. I've been in the trenches fighting for an alphabet soup of conservative causes for 30 years. I've raised hundreds of millions of dollars for it. And I earnestly hope that McCain isn't listening to the advice he's getting from these folks. Their thinking betrays a fundamental misreading of the conservative pulse in America today.
Conservative leaders, particularly those in talk radio, cannot and will not be silent. They will not betray their principles and their audiences. Tens of millions of activists turn to them for guidance. These activists could be, and need to be, McCain's ground troops, but unless and until conservatives believe him -- and believe in him -- they will not work for his election. McCain may have the Beltway crowd in his corner, but grass-roots conservatives aren't sold.
Yet through his surrogates, McCain is attacking these leaders. This is beyond folly. It is political suicide.
For 20 years, the moderate establishment of the Republican Party has told conservatives to sit down, shut up and do as we're told. History shows that sometimes we bite the bullet. But not always. I absolutely guarantee that this year we cannot be taken for granted. This is a movement fed up with betrayals, and they've come one after the other.
Inside, the headline is "Time to Find His Inner Reagan."
Read the whole thing, of course.