One partial explanation for the feeding frenzy is the bowel-stewing fear among an Obamaphilic press corps that Palin might actually help McCain win.
But another part of the answer is that the press was simply surprised. Cockroaches scatter when shocked by a flipped light switch. Grizzly bears attack when startled. And when caught napping by big news, the press corps floods the zone. Editors scream at underlings who missed the story. Networks fret they'll be scooped. And all of a sudden, the norms and standards become a blur in the race to be first. In the case of Palin, the press vaulted over every principle and standard they'd established about what is and isn't fair game, like O.J. Simpson leaping over luggage in the old Hertz commercials. It required the Jaws of Life to pry news of John Edwards' affair out the mainstream press. But when it came to the personal drama of Palin's 17-year old daughter, the press clawed for morsels like they were golden tickets from Wonka Bars.
They wouldn't have done the same thing if Palin were an unknown Democrat, because the press' reflex is to assume the worst of Republicans.
The Eagleton Option exposed the press' gut instincts, and the viscera are not pretty. Eagleton dropped out because it was leaked that he'd received shock therapy for ill-defined mental problems. Many of those who expected Palin to withdraw see her values and her choices as proof of a mental problem. "She's more a conservative man than she is a woman on women's issues," quoth a spokeswoman from the predictably shrill National Organization for Women, which always defines womanhood by a woman's commitment to left-wing feminist dogma. If you're pro-life, or even just a Republican, you're not a real woman, you're suffering from some sort of pernicious gender confusion.
How long before the Palin-haters insist she needs shock therapy, too? For her own good, of course.