“If McCain drops Palin,” writes Jim Treacher in the comments to the Headlines item on this, “he may as well drop out of the race.” Agreed. It’d be the buzzkill di tutti buzzkills for a party that hasn’t had a buzz on since … 2003, maybe? The base will, simply, melt down. I was skeptical that the left’s attacks are evidence of panic, but now that the Eagleton thing is suddenly popping up — Ben Smith mentioned it last night, now Joshua Green, and I think NBC mentioned it earlier — I’m starting to wonder. Why on earth would McCain dump her? What does the media have to show for all these breathless scandals they’ve dug up? We found out her daughter’s pregnant, but McCain probably knew about that in advance; in any case, the base has rallied around her in the aftermath and independents are unlikely to care two months down the road. We found out she was once a member of the Alaska Independence Party — except that, er, she wasn’t, and as Smith notes, it’s not nearly as fringe a party as one might think. We found out Todd Palin had a DUI back when Wham! was still together. We found out she flip-flopped on the bridge to nowhere, which would sting if not for the fact that she flip-flopped in the right direction and ended up torpedoing it. We found out she requested earmarks as mayor of Wasilla in the fine tradition of The One, who also claims to stand for “Change.” We found out she hopes God approves of what our soldiers are doing overseas. And as to the one big story that’s cooking, Troopergate, we found out nothing: She has a private lawyer now and the Democrat in charge of the investigation is trying hard to make Republicans panic, but like the Bristol Palin news, this is one thing McCain probably did vet thoroughly given the stakes.

So what’s the big smoking gun that’s going to get her Eagletoned to oblivion? Is the suggestion that something bigger’s coming down the pike? An Alaska libertarian who’s, um, high on Palin thinks there is, although it sounds less like a case of him having specific information than simply believing Alaskans are free spirits with embarrassing juvenile behavior in their closets. Exit question: Given all of her enemies among the state party establishment, how is it these various and sundry nefarious scandals haven’t already emerged?

Update: But since we’re talking about replacing people on the ticket…

Old, Grizzled Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain

Update: Tom Edsall begs Republicans — any Republican — at the convention to tell him McCain’s considering dumping Palin and the best he can do is this:

“Hell no! No hint of that! None! Nada,” declared Republican Pollster Whit Ayres. “All of the talk is exactly the other way,” he said, claiming to be stunned by a reporter’s inquiry. Palin, he said, “has energized this convention. These people [delegates] are fired up about her. Now they are going to work their hearts out for her.”

On the record and off the record, Republican strategists are putting up a nearly united front in a drive to quash public speculation that the growing controversies surrounding the Palin pick, and the growing body of evidence that only a superficial background check of the Alaska Governor was conducted, are forcing the McCain campaign to rethink its choice…

The Republican ‘Omerta’ strategy is, as one lonely GOP source noted to the Huffington Post, not credible. “Of course people talk about it [pulling Palin off the ticket] over a drink or at breakfast. Everyone agrees that it’s not in the cards now, but it’s crazy to tell you animals [reporters] that there is a total vacuum of thought.”

That note of realism does not, however, prevent the cadre of strategists and operatives here from toeing the line. “There has not been any talk that I’ve heard,” one well-connected player here contended. “Everyone is locking in on her.”