John Fund, right-wing hack, understands how it works. In How She Slipped Through he writes,
Back home, the Liberty Legal Institute, the only conservative legal foundation in Texas, has declined to endorse her. Several large GOP donors in Texas have met to discuss spending large sums to run ads calling on Ms. Miers to withdraw. … This even though the White House has ominously put out the word in Texas: “If you oppose this nomination, you oppose the president.” Everyone knows what the political ramifications of that can mean in the world of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.
Everyone knows what happens to you if you go against Rove. That’s what has been holding this whole right-wng syndicate together: raw fear. If you step out of line the right-wing machine will crush you. Pure and simple, right out there for everyone to see and understand.
That’s why the whole “conservative movement” thing appears to be starting to fall apart. The prosecutor looking into the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valeria Plame has been keeping Rove distracted, and some people are starting to believe that Rove could actually be indicted. With Rove distracted or indicted the fear level goes down. The same thing is happening with the Abramoff investigation. Grover Norquist, the other half of the Rove smear machine, is linked to Abramoff’s crimes — his machine is where a lot of the money was channeled. So Norquist is similarly distracted. And, finally, there is Tom “The Hammer” DeLay, indicted and distracted.