Finely Aged Whine

There’s quite a tear-jerking piece in the Post by Howard Kurtz today about the McCain campaign’s wailing about the media treatment of their botched veep roll-out …

Sen. John McCain’s top campaign strategist accused the news media Tuesday of being “on a mission to destroy” Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by displaying “a level of viciousness and scurrilousness” in pursuing questions about her personal life.

In an extraordinary and emotional interview, Steve Schmidt said his campaign feels “under siege” by wave after wave of news inquiries that have questioned whether Palin is really the mother of a 4-month-old baby, whether her amniotic fluid had been tested and whether she would submit to a DNA test to establish the child’s parentage.

Schmidt, a former spokesman for President Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, talked openly about his frustrations in an interview with The Washington Post. He said the McCain camp is in the middle of the worst media “feeding frenzy” he has ever seen.

Schmidt, by the way, is one of the most hard-boiled GOP operatives and Rove proteges around. I guess he and his McCain colleagues missed the whole Rev. Wright episode, Clinton impeachment episode and, what, maybe twenty other episodes over recent years.

It’s also notable that while virtually all the aggressive questioning of Palin has been on her troopergate scandal, her manifest lack of qualifications, ties to a political party that embraces secession, etc. Schmidt focused on stories that if you look closely were actually never written. Yes, there was a storm of speculation on blogs. And maybe reporters followed up with inquiries. But who published any of it? Think about that for a second.

The McCain camp is using the rumors about Palin’s family as a cudgel to beat back entirely legitimate questions — which may amount to a feeding frenzy — about Palin’s political record, alleged pattern of abuse of the power of her office and political associations. When you see Steve Schmidt getting weepy, believe me, you’re getting played.