The following is what I wrote back to my friend in response to the article.
The next question, of course, is WHY this has come about. What turned conservatives into authoritarian cultists? In my view, a "perfect storm" of factors created this unusual situation:
1) W wants to be an authoritarian cult leader, as he has demonstrated time and time again.
2) 9/11 made people in general more accepting of the idea of security-based strong presidency.
3) The success of the Rovian "personal destruction" political strategy made it dangerous for anyone who disagreed to do so publicly.
4) The revivial of social conservatism, focused exclusively on reversing what they view as social ills, such as abortion and gay marriage, through the use of the supreme court, and not caring nearly as much about any other issue, has created a situation in which a very politically powerful group of zealots has defended this president through thick and thin, right and wrong, scandal after scandal, exclusively to keep him in the position of being strong enough to nominate judges of their liking.
5) As happens with all emperors, the best way to get ahead in your own career is to revere the emperor--so we have a bunch of toadies signing up with the political machine to further their own interests.
This is precisely why I think that the Republican party will suffer enormously in 2008 and beyond. They have focused so extensively on being Bush's cult base that trying to make some sort of imperial succession to another candidate who doesn't have the same views on everything will be extremely difficult, and it will leave a lot of Republican candidates directionless--as usually happens with imperial succession.
This is why the Republicans' best chance is to nominate Jeb Bush in 2008. It's so much easier to pass succession through bloodlines...
One wonders if Jeb is going to run in 2008. If he does, then by the time he's had a couple of terms, his fully bilingual and charismatic son (whose name I don't remember) will be old enough to run...