From the minute the White House issued their statement on the Sestak Scandal, people have been questioning the White House’s version of events. (Notice I didn’t imply that it was the truth.) With each passing minute, more questions are being raised. What’s worse (for Sestak and the Obama administration) is that information is surfacing that says Rep. Sestak, as an elected official, wasn’t eligible to serve on this board:
According to the Boardâ€™s official Web site:
The Board consists of not more than 16 members appointed by the President from among individuals who are not employed by the Federal Government. Members are distinguished citizens selected from the national security, political, academic, and private sectors.
Rich Lowry has 3 important questions that need answering:
Since when is a former three-star admiral going to be impressed by an offer of a position on an advisory board?
If Sestak was exaggerating all along, why didn’t the White House expose him months ago when it would have embarrassed him and perhaps help drag Specter over the finish line?
Does Rahm Emanuel give up so easily that after making Sestak an insulting offer of an advisory board slot he would have stopped trying to entice Sestak out of the race?
Compare those insightful questions with the Washington Post’s kid glove treatment of the Sestak Scandal. Here’s the opening paragraph of their editorial:
OKAY, if all the facts are out, then we would agree: Nothing inappropriate happened. On the basis of the memorandum issued Friday by White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer, the Joe Sestak job-for-dropping-out-of-Senate-race scandal is a non-scandal, except for the White House’s bungling of the episode. The unnecessary coverup, it turns out, is always worse than the non-crime.
It’s disheartening that the genuflectors at the Washington Post give the White House memo that much credibility. They shouldn’t trust that statement that quickly or without asking a ton of questions (like Rich Lowry’s) first. Here’s the final paragraph of the Washington Post editorial:
Of course, Mr. Clinton’s involvement inevitably makes any story juicier, but still: The administration could have disclosed these facts in February, when the matter first came up. Instead, it stonewalled with assurances that nothing inappropriate happened, but offered no facts to support that high-handed assertion. It continued this tactic after Mr. Sestak won the primary this month. A little transparency early on would have gone a long way to making this story die down before it became a conflagration.
The Washington Post editorial board actually hits on something worth questioning. They’ve essentially admitted that they believe Bauer’s statement. For the sake of discussion, let’s stipulated that Bauer’s statement is accurate. Why would this administration not turn Rep. Sestak’s works against him? It would’ve ended his senatorial campaign instantly.
Had Mr. Emanuel granted an interview to a Jake Tapper or a Major Garrett on the subject of Sestak, he could’ve used the interview to categorically deny that the administration offering Sestak the Navy Secretary position. Had they done that, Sestak’s senatorial campaign would’ve been over.
Since the Obama administration’s goal was to support Sen. Specter, why wouldn’t they pounce on the opportunity to stop Specter’s opponent’s campaign dead in its tracks?
As for the Washington Post’s asking why there wasn’t more “transparency” on this issue, didn’t it dawn on them that the reason why there wasn’t greater transparency might’ve been because there’s more to this story than this administration is admitting? During the Nixon years, Bob Woodward certainly didn’t accept such self-serving statements at face value.
Salena Zito’s and Mike Wereschagin’s reporting in this morning’s Pittsburgh Tribune Review highlights something most people have brushed over. Here’s what I’m refering to:
White House Counsel Robert Bauer, who wrote the Obama administration’s report on the offer, denied that a crime occurred.
“Efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a presidential or other senior executive branch advisory board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary, allow him to retain his seat in the House, and provide him with an opportunity for additional service to the public in a high-level advisory capacity for which he was highly qualified,” Bauer wrote.
Sestak declined the offer.
“The former president said he knew I’d say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects,” said Sestak, who served as an adviser to Clinton during his administration, when Sestak was an admiral in the Navy.
Notice the difference in the paragraphs between the use of singular and plural nouns. The Obama administration’s statement said that “efforts (plural) were made in June and July of 2009″ but Sestak’s comment was that President Clinton talked to him about the advisory position, that Sestak refused and “the conversation (singular) moved on to other subjects.”
This is important, I believe, because we’re talking about different principles in this incident saying different things. It’s quite possible that Rep. Sestak had a single conversation with President Clinton about the Senate race. Bauer’s statement might accurately reflect the White House’s involvement in the Sen. Specter/Rep. Sestak primary campaign.
If the White House used President Clinton just once to talk with Rep. Sestak, which we can’t rule out based on the principles’ statements, which person or people made other offers to Rep. Sestak after President Clinton made initial contact with Rep. Sestak? I’m wondering what other offers were made to Rep. Sestak, too.
This paragraph is filled with sanctimonious statements:
“I felt for my own personal accountability I needed to be honest, and I said yes,” Sestak said. “I mean, I didn’t try to parse the word there. And then I said after that ‘no comment’ to the follow-on questions that were asked, because I talked about my role in the matter, and I thought that was important for me to do.”
Really? There’s no parsing of words? Let’s accept that as truth. If President Clinton did make a single call to persuade Rep. Sestak to drop out of the race, which high-ranking administration official or officials made other offers to Rep. Sestak? It’s important we remember that Bauer’s statement said that multiple contacts were made in June and July, 2009. Surely, they didn’t call Rep. Sestak to make him the same offer that President Clinton made, right?
At this point, it’s apparent that this isn’t the last statement that the Obama administration will have to make. People will persist in asking whether other offers were made and who made them. Doing this document dump on the Friday before Memmorial Day weekend was meant to bury the information when nobody was paying attention. This administration has attempted this multiple times. Thus far, it hasn’t buried anything because people persist in asking additional questions when people return from long holiday weekends.
If a senior administration official offered Rep. Sestak a job like Secretary of the Navy or something similar, then that official had better hire a good attorney because he’ll need it.
Technorati: Scandal, Joe Sestak, Bill Clinton, Rahm+Emanuel, President Obama, Advisory Board, National Security, Civilians, Military, Navy, Robert Bauer, Arlen Specter, Primary, Democrats, Election 2010
Cross-posted at California Conservative