Background: as you may recall, starting last year (and as recently as May 2010) Joe Sestak began to allege that the White House offered him an administration job in exchange for dropping out of Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary. These allegations were both surprising and unsurprising; unsurprising because such offers are made all the time (something similar was reported in Colorado’s Democratic Senate primary), but surprising in that it’s usually not admitted to so openly, given that such offers are also against the law. Sestak never recanted and the administration claimed that he had garbled a perfectly-innocent and certainly not felonious invitation by President Clinton to have Sestak serve on a commission. As Sestak had gone on to win the primary anyway, it seemed obvious that all parties involved on the Democratic side of things wanted to let the matter drop quietly. As for Clinton… he never said anything at all on the subject, really.
I have to disagree with Jim Geraghty here that Rep. Joe Sestak’s (D) admitting that the White House tried to bribe him reflects well on Sestak. Either Sestak is lying about this, in which case he’s, well, a liar who did so for crass political gain; or Sestak’s telling the truth about this, in which case he’s pretty much explicitly participating in a cover-up of a felony. Either way, talking in general terms is not really acceptable. Unless there was an active conspiracy permeating the entire Executive Branch to bribe Joe Sestak, somebody in the White House is innocent of this crime – but until we get the full details of what happens, we won’t know who. And while I may have been heavily critical of the unprofessional behavior of the White House’s staffers, I think it’s hardly fair of Sestak to talk about this scandal in a fashion that implicates all of them.
Marvel, my friends, at the moral heroism put on display here:
If you define ‘moral heroism’ as ‘reluctantly and inarticulately admitting that one was offered a bribe by the White House, while neglecting to alert the relevant federal authorities of the alleged crime in question,’ of course. Which apparently Joe Sestak does. Watch that video to the end to see DNC chair Tim Kaine disassociate himself from this mess – and it is a mess. I’m not just saying that because I’m a Republican and the President is a Democrat. I don’t even think that the President or his senior advisers knew that Sestak was offered a job; this incident has all the hallmarks of a Executive branch staffer having an excess of enthusiasm and a deficit of awareness of federal ethics guidelines. But it doesn’t matter; and it doesn’t matter because President Obama explicitly ran on a platform of his Administration Not Being Like Other Administrations.