A Short Demonstration of Why the “Veepstakes” Are So Useless

The headline: “Nikki Haley: I Wouldn’t Accept the Vice Presidential Nomination.” It reminds the amateur historian of some other headlines.

February 2, 2004:

Edwards Rules Out Vice President Role

Asked how he would respond if party leaders implored him to take the second spot on the Democratic ticket to his Senate colleague from Massachusetts, [John] Edwards told CBS television: “I will say no.”

August 19, 2008:

Biden Busts His Own Buzz

ABC News, was among those on a stakeout at Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., and as he climbed into the driver’s seat of a white, very serious pickup truck, the casually dressed senator seemed to peek out the driver’s side window to give a little statement to the cameras gathered: “Hey guys, I’m not the guy. See ya.”

Haley is playing a game here; she can spin superficial national buzz (a USA Today cover this week!), but South Carolina Republicans laugh themselves red-eyed when you ask whether she could survive a real vetting. But the other people who “rule out” a VP nod are doing no such thing. That’s not how this works. They take the softball and they pick a direction to hit it in. Say you’re mulling it if you need that buzz; “rule it out” if you want a different sort of buzz.