If it's Friday, it's garbage day at the White House. Fans of the late, great television series "The West Wing" know that Fridays are the days when the White House press machine releases gems intended to be lost and buried in the weekend news cycle.
Now, I'm not saying that late this Friday afternoon the White House will release its official version it offered a deal to coax Congressman Joe Sestak out of running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. As President Obama said at his Thursday press conference, it will be "soon" and not weeks or months. My money is on a Friday and that might happen by the time you read this.
This fixation that some nefarious deal was cut between incumbent Republican-turned Democrat Arlen Specter and the White House to push Sestak into oblivion is nothing more than what former First Lady Hillary Clinton once said was the doings of a right-wing conspiracy.
There, I said it. This is politics, fools. Get over it. Unlike those raising questions about the Sestak Sidetrack, I offer full disclosure. I'm a Democrat. I believed Sestak was the better candidate than Specter. And, Democrats in Pennsylvania agreed. The party's over.
Shifting gears to a neutral observer, the facts in this case, culled from news reports going back to the spring of 2009, are these:
Specter agreed to switch party affiliation making what he thought at the time much easier to win the Democratic primary, for certain "gentleman's agreements." Specter would receive the White House endorsement and campaign help in consideration for Specter's vote for health care reform legislation. When it became clear Sestak would enter the Democratic Senatorial race, the White House dispatched former President Bill Clinton to suggest other options to the up and coming Congressman. Conservatives led by their shrillest mouthpiece in Fox News fueled by right-wing conservative advocates such as Robert Livingston of Personal Liberty Digest and Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), smelled a rat.
The stink was first raised by Sestak himself in February that the White House offered him a job to get out of the race. He refused to elaborate on any details ever since.
The furor, simmering for months, reached near boiling Wednesday when Issa, the top ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he will file an ethics complaint against Sestak if he doesn’t provide details about an alleged illegal job offer from the White House.
"Either he’s lying, or covering up felonies for political purposes," Issa told Politico.com.
Says the always quotable Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee:
"It is unacceptable for an administration that touts itself as the ‘most transparent’ in history to continue to stonewall a significant and potentially devastating accusation of political corruption."
One right-winger went so far as demanding a special prosecutor.
Why I suspect the White House press will release the garbage statement this Friday is because White House Legal Counsel Robert F. Bauer released his memo earlier this Friday on his findings of the allegations against Sestak. The full memo can be read on this pdf.
I'm not claiming Bauer is the final judge on this matter and certainly not the jury. But, first some summarizing of Bauer's findings.
On the charge Sestak was offered the job of Secretary of the Navy, false. Ray Mabus was nominated by Obama March 26, 2009, a month before Specter announced he was changing party registration. Neither was the job offered and neither did Sestak seek the SecNav job.
On the charge Sestak was offered a non-paying position on an executive branch advisory board, true. The White House staff convinced former President Clinton to offer a variety of posts in which the White House Counsel's staff believed was not a conflict of interest with a sitting elected official. Sestak declined.
On the charge the White House engaged in improper alternatives to Sestak's Senate campaign, no impropriety occurred.
This is where I think Bauer is on shaky grounds. His memo said the Democratic Party "leadership" had "a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the Congressman vacating his seat in the House."
Using language Rahm Emmanuel can understand, I think he got his tit in the ringer on the Joe Sestak conflict.
As the guru in charge of the Democrats campaigning to win back a majority in the House in the 2006 elections, Rep. Emmanuel handpicked the retired vice admiral as a moderate to left winner, which he has proven.
Then, as Obama's chief of staff, the Machiavellian disciple, desperately seeking a health reform victory for his boss, helped broker the Specter switcheroo with Senate Democratic leaders. And, then came Sestak, at first a longshot, and then with embarrassing ease outran Specter in the last furlong.
All this fuss by the conservatives and Fox News, its echo chamber, over Sestak is red herring. Their goal is not an ethical mission. It is one of many means to embarrass Obama and if the road kill takes down Rambo aka Rahm Emmanuel, all the better.
May I remind them that Rambo lives for another sequel.
If only the Republicans could rule as a majority party as effectively as they pillage, plunder, pontificate, elevate "no" and obstruction to the highest level ever seen in political circles, spend money on issues to a degree that would pay off the national debt ... I might pull a Specter and switch parties.