PUTTING AWAY THE LONG KNIVES…. Following up on an item from yesterday, CNN’s Campbell Brown did a nice job yesterday responding to the latest efforts of McCain campaign insiders dishing dirt on Sarah Palin.

Atrios has the whole transcript, but Brown’s message to the campaign insiders was rather straightforward: “[C]an I please remind you of one thing: you picked her. You are the ones who supposedly vetted her, and then told the American people she was qualified for the job. You are the ones who after meeting her a couple of times, told us she was ready to be just one heartbeat away from the Presidency. If even half of what you say NOW is true, then boy, did you try to sell the American people a bill of goods. If Sarah Palin is the reason some voters chose Barack Obama, that is no one’s fault but your own. John McCain, as he so graciously said himself the other night, lost this election. He lost it with your help, your advice, your guidance, and yes, your running mate recommendations. And that is crystal clear to everyone, no matter how hard you try to blame Sarah Palin or anyone else.”

Just to clarify, this isn’t about defending Palin. In fact, I’m inclined to believe, most, if not all, of the dirt her Republican detractors have fed to the media.

Rather, the point here is that destroying Palin doesn’t actually make the McCain campaign look any better. No matter how successful they are in trashing Palin, it’s still McCain who ends up holding the bag — he and his team picked the “whack job” to be one 72-year-old heartbeat from the presidency, without any serious vetting.

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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.