I'm not sure how to read the political implications of the news.
On the one hand, Bush could railroad through a candidate while the nation's attention is focused elsewhere. He's done it at a lower level, the Republicans are going to do it with the Estate Tax, there's no reason to think otherwise.
On the other hand, the smart money isn't on Bush right now, and those coattails are starting to look like millstones. The Republicans are going to need to be very careful, or they'll have their lackies' tentative complaints about political opportunism fired back at them tenfold.
It depends on how succesful their attempt to pass the buck will be.