PINATA POLITICS TURNS TO DRUG USE…. In desperation, and with the other attacks coming up short, Republicans have begun an effort to re-ignite interest in Barack Obama’s teenaged drug use. I should know better, but this is surprisingly cheap, even for them.

This apparently started over the weekend, when the New York Times published an item about Cindy McCain, which noted, among other things, her bout with drug addiction and the criminal efforts she engaged in, using an international charity to create phony prescriptions in the names of her staff. McCain’s lawyer lashed out, insisting that the Times should go after Michelle Obama and “Barack Obama’s drug dealer.”

Yesterday, McCain campaign surrogates pursued a similar line. Mike Huckabee, who usually prefers to stay out of the gutter, said Obama’s drug use as a teenager is now relevant. Rudy Giuliani followed suit during an interview on Fox News.

“[Y]ou can’t even raise these issues. And, you know, God forbid somebody would do some reporting on Barack Obama’s use of drugs. I guess that was the point that Mrs. McCain’s lawyer made.”

This is a terribly odd line of attack. First, the New York Times already wrote a detailed, well-researched, front-page piece about Obama’s teenaged drug use. I’m not sure what more the Republicans want the Times to do.

Second, Giuliani’s decision to bring this up, unprompted, is especially interesting, given that Giuliani specifically said during his own campaign that the media shouldn’t push this issue, and even praised Obama’s honesty and candor on the issue. It’s almost as if Giuliani decided to bring it up yesterday, for no reason, as part of some kind of coordinated smear campaign.

Third, for Republicans to draw some parallel between Obama’s background and Cindy McCain’s is a stretch. Obama was a teenager, experimenting with drugs as young people often do; McCain was an adult, misusing the resources of a non-profit organization, and using “her status as a charity director and senator’s wife to cajole the drugs she wanted.” There seems to be a qualitative difference between the two.

And finally, what is it, exactly, that the Republican attack dogs want the media to report about Obama’s teenaged drug use? That it happened? That’s already been widely reported. Indeed, Obama wrote about it in his book, and has talked about it on the campaign trail.

The reality is, the McCain campaign doesn’t want to see more “reporting”; it wants to get in another 11th-hour smear. It’s kind of sad to watch.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.