Editors' note: Stuart Whatley is a fall 2008 Prospect editorial intern.
One need only look back four years to the last presidential election to see the irony in the McCain campaign's whimpering accusations that the media is "on a mission to destroy" their recent VP pick, Sarah Palin, with "viciousness and scurrilousness." In fact, one need only look back to a few weeks ago to Jerome Corsi's new hotly contested book, Obama Nation -- an attempt to repeat the "vicious and scurrilous" swift boat campaign against John Kerry in 2004 -- to see history repeating itself. As more and more information surfaces revealing the extent, or lack thereof, of the McCain campaign's vetting process, they should hardly be surprised to be under the microscope.
After all, someone's got to figure this woman out if she is to be added to a presidential ticket. Either McCain's people vetted Palin adequately, and chose her despite the skeletons in her closet, or they did not, and therefore must subject themselves to the media's own vetting. Either way, they are in no position to complain. Even if Palin had a pristine record, bereft of any hint of controversy, it still would not have precluded her from an inundation of inquiries and vituperation from the media and her opponents. Welcome to national politics.
The McCain campaign's accusation that the media has a malevolent agenda is not only played-out, it's suspiciously naive. If they insist on comparing their young, sensationalized VP candidate, Palin, to their young opponent, Obama, then they will do well to consider that Obama has already had his time before the mainstream media firing-squad -- from the Jeremiah Wright controversy to the New Yorker's perverse depiction of him dressed as a terrorist -- and he has weathered the storm with flying colors and no complaints of victimization.
If Republicans are too impuissant to have a taste of their own medicine, perhaps in the future they should reign in their attack-oriented posture and actually address some of the issues. Palin may end up being a scapegoat, but it will have been the GOP's doing -- not the media's.