E.J. Dionne sounds like he’s been channeling The West Wing for his tea-leaf reading this morning.
That would be John and Jeb, the most logical Republican ticket if the party remains in the polling doldrums. If President Bush and his political maestro, Karl Rove, decide that the only way to create a political legacy is to nod toward the Arizona senator with whom they have battled and feuded, they will go for the guy who can win.
Bush has been battling, with Rove’s help, for a long-term political realignment in favor of the Republicans. The president could well come to see McCain as the only Republican with a chance to push a Republican era forward. McCain, in turn, knows that his only way around the Republican right is to run with Bush’s open blessing, if not his outright endorsement.
And here is where Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, could be the deal-closer. Jeb Bush has said he will not run in 2008. But that does not rule him out as a vice presidential candidate. If McCain won, Jeb would be the No. 2 to a president who will turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, and might well serve only a single term. If McCain lost, Jeb would have enhanced national recognition for a run in 2012. If picking Jeb is the price of winning over George W., McCain will pay it.
George W. Bush and John McCain may prefer not to need each other. But by 2008, they could well become codependent. American politics has produced stranger alliances.
Maybe it’s more The Odd Couple than anything else.