Oh, this amnesty is happenin’, baby. He and his 29% approval rating are going to see to that.

President Bush considers it premature to declare the immigration reform bill dead in the Senate, White House adviser Dan Bartlett said Friday.

A motion to cut off debate on the measure failed Thursday night, stopping the proposal from coming up for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had said earlier that if the motion was not approved, it would be “over with … gone.”

But Bartlett told CNN that Bush wants Reid to consider putting the bill back on the table.

No matter how it ends up, savor this: the longer it drags out, the longer Saint McCain spends eating shinola sandwiches.

Someone who knows McCain’s thinking told Playbook: “It’s negative for McCain. He needed it resolved. If it had been, it becomes a debate about how effective the law is, and people move on. Now it’s open for critics. Passage is better.”

But the conventional wisdom is likely to be that it’s good for McCain if the apparent death is more than apparent — if it moves the issue off newscasts and front pages. A colleague adds: “But if the thing still has life it just drags out the bad narrative.”

A Republican who usually knows which way the wind is blowing: “It is very good for McCain, both near-term and long-term. He benefits from having it go away. You can’t become POTUS if you’re not the nominee. I assure you that McCain — a man that I loathe — is elated.”

A Democratic strategist, who has usually been right over the years, echoed the McCain source, calling it “John McCain’s nightmare”: “Now, it won’t ever go away. He needed the boil lanced. They’ll torture him with it at every debate.”

And a neutral wise man says that while the upside is that the issue may die down, it has taken a deep toll on McCain: The anecdotes about him cussing and proclaiming himself the expert on the bill will persist, becoming viral among party activists and a symbol of McCain’s ideological drift from the party.

Exit question: Will Fred’s campaign really bleed McCain’s campaign dry? I understand that they have similar voting records in the Senate, but they’re far apart on this signature issue and McCain’s social conservative bona fides are suspect. It seems to me if Fred’s going to bleed anyone, it’ll be Mitt, the current social-con standard bearer, by presenting “values” voters with an alternative. Although Mitt’s personal wealth and fundraising skill are such that he can afford to bleed an awful lot before it hurts him.