“Our nominee doesn’t run with the Washington herd” — Sarah Palin, GOP convention speech, 2008.

Unless in that herd are refugees, loan-outs and moonlighters from the current Bush Administration and its two presidential campaigns, then yes, John McCain does ride with the herd Sarah, hoping of course, to ride it all the way to the White House in November.

The sad irony in Palin’s words — you remember all the mighty hallelujahs! she generated among Republicans and the slavish press for her plucky lines about those awful community organizers, small towns growing good people, and lipstick on pitbulls — is they were put into her mouth by a former Bush speech writer, Matthew Scully.

Washington Post writers Anne Kornblut and Juliet Eilperin have a story in tomorrow’s paper going into detail of how McCain has relinquished his campaign to BushCo., and how a platoon of them were sent on with Palin to mold, manage and message for her on the campaign trail. Already, the Bushies are getting credit for McCain’s rise from the ashes — in some of the most perverse places:

Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, expressed pride at what her former colleagues have been able to accomplish.

“We had a great team — they’re the best in the business, and I’m sure the campaign feels fortunate to have them,” Perino said.

Here’s “the team,” according to WaPo and how they are fitting in:

Nicolle Wallace, Mark Wallace’s wife, was communications director at the White House and is now offering senior-level communications expertise to both McCain and Palin (and joined Palin on her Alaska trip). Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as chief economist for Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, is now McCain’s domestic policy adviser (and accompanied Palin to Alaska as well). Bush confidant Mark McKinnon stopped formally advising McCain once Obama became the Democratic nominee — but he, too, is continuing to advise the group and crafted Cindy McCain’s convention speech. (snip)

Stephen E. Biegun, a former member of Bush’s National Security Council, was on the trip, too; he is helping give Palin foreign policy briefings. (snip)

Palin spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt worked on the Bush campaigns and, more recently, at the Republican National Committee. Two other Palin press officers, Maria Comella and Ben Porritt, also worked on Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. Taylor Griffin, who worked on the 2004 campaign, is helping manage Palin’s communications effort in Alaska. Another Bush advance pro, Chris Edwards, is also helping to stage-manage Palin’s appearances around the country.

They join Greg Jenkins, who served as the deputy assistant to Bush in his first term and Tucker Eskew, a Bush strategic communications guy who was largely responsible for the beating McCain got in South Carolina during the 2000 primary. He is now serving as one of Palin’s “closest aides,” according to the report.

The mastermind behind what could be the greatest act of surrender in McCain’s political career — handing over the reins of his future to the very people he claims to be rebelling against, including the the goon squad that smeared his name across the south eight years ago — is Steve Schmidt, a former campaign and communications strategist for both Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Schmidt’s operation is tightly run and hard-nosed — made up of policy advisers, communications experts, advance people and lower-level aides, many of them old friends who have worked together for the last eight years, and whose presence lends a familiar vibe to the Palin operation.

“Vibe” invokes “groovy” and for many Americans, this is not. It’s more like a “blast from the past” or a funeral dirge … but for whom?