It is difficult to exaggerate the pessimism about the immediate political future voiced by Republicans in Congress when not on the record. With an unpopular president waging an unpopular war, they foresee electoral catastrophe in 2008, with Democratic gains in both the House and Senate and Hillary Clinton in the White House. That's the atmosphere in which these lachrymose lawmakers have for several months faced an increasingly hysterical onslaught from constituents demanding the death of the "amnesty" for immigrants they heard vilified on talk radio.
These callers swamped phone lines to Republican congressional offices (as well as to the White House) with threats that they would never vote again for anybody supporting "amnesty."
To the Republicans who fought the bill I say, congratulations. You have sacrificed Hispanic, moderate and independent voters in favor of the nativists in your party who wouldn't have had anybody else to vote for next year anyway. Well done.