Business as Usual

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A spate of stories has begun to bring to light a scandal, one that could threaten the Obama presidency in a very direct way.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) announced some time back that he would run against Arlen Specter (D-PA) in this year’s senatorial primary. Obama had endorsed Specter (who had left the Republican Party to support Obama’s agenda). Sestak reported during the campaign that someone from the White House offered him a high-ranking job if he would not challenge Specter in the primary. He said this at a time when he was opposing Specter and hence the president. This statement has come back to haunt them both, now that they are buddies, because Sestak defeated Specter and is now the Democratic candidate for a crucial Senate seat.

For weeks, both the White House and Sestak refused to comment on the alleged job offer. Sestak couldn’t deny his earlier assertion without showing himself an arrant liar, but besides repeatedly reaffirming the story, he refused to elaborate — what the job was, and who exactly conveyed the offer. But the story grew to the point where the White House finally decided to address the issue — sort of.

In a last-minute effort to squelch the issue, White House Counsel Robert Bauer released a brief memo on the Friday evening before the Memorial Day weekend. The memo acknowledged that in June and July of last year, the White House Chief of Staff got former President Bill Clinton to approach Sestak to offer a slot on a presidential or other senior executive branch advisory board, which would allow him to stay in the House of Representatives and not challenge Specter. Sestak’s brother was called to the White House the day before to be informed about the memo’s release, and perhaps to convey to Sestak the “official story.”

Even as it stands, the whole thing stinks. Let’s assume this story is truly what happened. Then Sestak looks like a conceited ass, exaggerating a discussion into an “offer,” an unpaid advisory board position into a “high-ranking” job, and a spouse of a member of the administration into “the White House.” And it confirms that Obama was trying to get someone to drop out of a race, which the president’s supporters (such as the leftist ezine Slate.com) argue is a common albeit tawdry practice. But this, remember, is St. Obama, the man who promised us an end to old-time politics and the culture of corruption, and to usher in the new era of “transparency.”

Yet if the story is true, why release it the day before a major holiday? Seems like an attempt to divert the public’s attention.

And the story is incredible as stated. Why would anybody think that a politician would forego a Senate seat for an unpaid position on an advisory panel? If, on the other hand, Sestak’s original story was right, then there would likely have been a crime committed. A political official cannot offer a government job to someone in exchange for something of value (which would include getting your preferred candidate a free shot for an office). And there would have been an attempted coverup.

Whether the public will force a proper investigation of this incident remains to be seen. Only by letting an investigator with the power to put people under oath and depose them in detail about all the relevant incidents will the truth emerge. Well, except from Clinton: he has already proven that he has no problem lying under oath. Indeed, perhaps that is why he got the assignment to begin with.

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