As we reported earlier today, the Jaws of campaign coverage — speculation about candidates’ choice of running mates — is back, just two days after you thought it had been banished to the bottom of the sea for four more years. And blogs have succumbed to the same virus sweeping the print press.

In yesterday’s Washington Times, columnist Bruce Bartlett fueled speculation about a potential Republican veepstakes by making the case against Dick Cheney, arguing that he hurts the ticket because he is a polarizing figure and scores poorly in the polls.

Kevin Drum leads off the insta-punditry: “Personally, I think these rumors are nuts. Cheney is perfectly fit to serve a second term, Bush prizes loyalty far too much to replace him, and dumping him would be viewed as a desperate attempt to distance himself from Cheney’s warmongering ways. On all counts, it would be a disaster.”

However, the rumors do tell us, says Drum, “that there are a lot of Republicans who are awfully nervous about the election this year. As well they should be with a guy like Cheney on their ticket.”

Matthew Yglesias for one rejects Bartlett’s suggestion that Bush dump Cheney for Condoleezza Rice, who he opines “has done an absolutely terrible job as National Security Advisor.” Furthermore, he writes, echoing Drum, dumping Cheney “would be a mess” and that citing medical reasons for his departure probably wouldn’t fly. Turning ghoulish for a moment, Yglesias wistfully muses, “Now if Cheney were to just die or something, letting Bush put someone new on the ticket, that would probably be to Bush’s advantage.”

Mark Schmitt backs away from his previous post predicting Cheney’s demise and jumps on the Drum-Yglesias bandwagon, explaining, “First, I hadn’t thought about this at the time, but I suspect there’s some truth to the idea that the Bushes do not want some young new GOP face to emerge who would overshadow Jeb Bush in 2008, either as successor or challenger, so Cheney remains a useful placeholder.”

Schimtt is also starting to buy into the “idea that Cheney is the driving intelligence behind the entire Bush presidency,” and that “the man who picked the vice president is unlikely to fire himself.”

Moving on, Salon blogger Jeff Horwitz offers a rebuttal to yesterday’s Boston Herald cover story denouncing the Kerry-Edwards ticket, which was headlined: “They’re left of Ted! GOP: Dem team more liberal than Kennedy.”

Horwitz points out a Charlotte Observer article from February that took a look at the often-cited National Journal’s political ratings for the last two years. The Observer found that Edwards’ voting record, “was more conservative than all but 10 of the Senate’s 50 Democrats. Over his four years, the magazine said, Edwards fell into the ‘moderate to conservative range’ of Democrats.”

And last, but not least, there’s a scuffle developing between the Nader campaign and a group calling itself Nevada Independents. Politics1.com reports that the Nader campaign distanced itself from efforts by the group to secure Nader access to the ballot by collecting petition signatures with a phantom VP candidate. Apparently the Naderites were confident that they would gain across to the Nevada ballot via the Green Party ticket. Now that the Greens have disavowed Nader, his campaign has come knocking on the Nevada group’s door. And it appears no one is at home.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.