Conventional wisdom says a Senate showdown over judicial nominees would be all about Bill Frists's presidential desires: By forcing a confrontation over the filibuster -- even if he loses -- Frist will have proven himself a loyal foot soldier in the Christian right's culture war. But another figure may loom large in a nuclear option explosion, and he's another Republican who could conceivably be a candidate in 2008.
Dick Cheney has already rejected the notion of a White House run about as unequivocally as a guy can. But Bob Woodward says people shouldn't rule out the vice president just yet. Appearing on Chris Matthews' NBC talker Sunday, Woodward called Cheney a "serious dark horse candidate" for 2008. How would it happen? With Frist, Sam Brownback, George Allen, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani floating around in a possible Republican field, the incumbent president, seeking clarity, might let Cheney off the hook for vowing not to run by calling on his main man to serve the nation once again. As Woodward puts it, "A guy named George Bush might come out and say 'What about Dick?'"
Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.