The Rules, of course, stated that from the press' perspective, anything goes. No mysterious allegation or offensive slight was out of bounds. For some reason those rules were packed away during the Bush years and are now in the process of being taken out of storage to cover president-elect Obama.
For proof, let's look at Dana Milbank from the Washington Post, dutifully regurgitating the Beltway CW today [emphasis added]:
But Obama's response to Blagojevich questions has been decidedly junior varsity. Begging off because of an ongoing investigation? Hiding behind Patrick Fitzgerald's skirt? Warning a reporter not to "waste" a question and asking for an alternative question? All four techniques were popularized by Bush."
Obama's acting just like Bush, according to Milbank. Okay. Now going back and searching through the Nexis archives, how many times during Bush's eight year in office did Milbank refer to Bush as "junior varsity"? Zero. How many times did anybody at the Post refer to Bush as "junior varsity"? Zero.
How many times did Milbank suggest Bush ever hid behind somebody's skirt? Zero. How many times did anybody at the Post make that emasculating claim? Zero.
So according to Milbank, Obama is acting just like Bush. But Milbank used language that nobody at the Post ever dreamt of using while Bush was in office.