By any objective measurement of newsprint or bandwidth devoted to the topic, the dominant “news” story of this week is the scandal involving Secret Service agents hiring hookers while advancing a presidential trip to Colombia. It seemed at first that the preoccupation with this small, sordid drama was just another example of the tabloidization of the MSM, and would disappear from the national radar screen the minute some entertainment celebrity did something even dumber.

But lo and behold, it seems that the conservative media apparatus is huffing and puffing to blow this up into a meaningful moment in the presidential campaign. At the tip of the spear, naturally, is Sarah Palin, who has exploited the fact that one of the agents in the case was assigned to her protection in 2008 and has allowed as how he “checked her out.” Since she’s now part of “the story,” she has zero inhibitions about explaining to Americans why this is another talking point in the case for firing Barack Obama:

“Well, this agent who was kind of ridiculous there in posting pictures and comments about checking someone out,” Palin told Greta van Susteren on her FOX News program. “Well check this out, bodyguard — you’re fired. And I hope his wife sends him to the doghouse. As long as he’s not eating the dog, along with his former boss. Greta, you know, a lot of people will just, I guess say that this is boys being boys. And boys will be boys, but they shouldn’t be in positions of authority.

“It’s a symptom of government run amok, though, Greta,” Palin said on the Thursday broadcast of “On the Record” on FOX News. “Who is minding the store here? And when it comes to this particular issue of Secret Service, again, playing with the taxpayer’s dime and playing with prostitutes and checking out those whom they are guarding….”

“The president, the CEO of this operation called our federal government, has got to start cracking down on these agencies. He is the head of the administrative branch and all of these different departments in the administration that now people are seeing things that are so amiss within these departments. The buck stops with the president. And he’s really got to start cracking down and seeing some heads roll. He has to get rid of these people at the head of these agencies where so many things, obviously, are amiss,” she said.

Palin is apparently alluding, as many other hostile commentators have done in connection with the Secret Service brouhaha, to the other Lite Scandal in the news recently, the GSA conference in Las Vegas that involved clowns, fortune tellers, a rap video and other wasteful expenditures. As it happens, of course, heads did roll at GSA, whose top three officials were fired or quit very soon after the Vegas extravaganza came to light. Heads appear to be rolling at the Secret Service as well; indeed, the dude who “checked out” Sarah Palin is no longer employed, and it’s certain some of his superiors will soon be cleaning out their desks as well.

What Palin and others like her have in mind is something very different: “cracking down” on “government run amok” in the form of the Affordable Care Act, the Violence Against Women Act, the Medicaid program, the food stamp program, and all sorts of public policies, services and investments that have zero to do with GSA, the Secret Service, or with clowns and hookers. It’s a “story-line” run amok, and even Sarah Palin knows enough about government to understand that.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.