Was the Condoleezza Rice rumor a real trial balloon? A deliberate distraction? Someone’s wishful thinking that transmogrified into a top-tier rumor? Something made up to drive traffic?

It doesn’t matter. The main thing here is that there’s no way at all that she’s going to be Mitt Romney’s running mate. Ed Kilgore gets this right: The answer here begins and ends with abortion. Rice is pro-choice, and so she’s not eligible for the Republican presidential ticket.

Sometimes, it’s worth pointing out the basics. No one who is pro-life is going to be on a Democratic ticket any time soon, and no one who is pro-choice will be on a Republican ticket. You can also forget about any GOP candidate who is for gun control, tax increases or a number of other issues, but abortion is the clearest and cleanest disqualifier. As one can see from Romney, it’s possible to convert and survive (see also George H.W. Bush, among others; the same is true on the Democratic side), but without a conversion — and one that seems sufficiently sincere to the people who care most about it — it’s just not going to happen.

Which is, pretty much, as it should be. That’s how parties work. Christian conservatives are quite right to push for a full veto when it comes to their core issue, and they’re a large enough and important enough portion of the Republican Party that they’ve earned that veto.

What I’ll add is that a secondary reason some have cited for why Rice won’t be the pick — that choosing her would remind people of the unpopular George W. Bush presidency — doesn’t really hold up. Nor does it hold up for Rob Portman, who headed the Office of Management and Budget under Bush. Sure, Democrats would have an excuse to talk about Bush, but it’s not as if Democrats need some sort of license to talk about him, and I think it’s utterly implausible that any voter who otherwise would believe that Romney’s policies would differ from Bush’s would be convinced otherwise by the running-mate choice. Just as with the supposed problem of picking a vice president who in the past has forcefully disagreed with the nominee, it’s just one of those things people say during veepstakes that doesn’t actually turn out to be the way things work after the selection.

But abortion? That’s a deal-breaker. A Republican Party that would accept a pro-choice candidate on the ticket would be a very different Republican Party from what we’ve seen in a long, long time.