Sestak speaks: Hey, no biggie

posted at 6:32 pm on May 28, 2010 by Allahpundit

Let me get this straight: The president’s chief of staff dispatched a former president to talk to an aspiring senator about dropping his primary bid in return for … a spot on some no-name unpaid advisory board? Does that sound remotely plausible? (Surprisingly, lefty sedition expert Joe Klein says no, before quickly adding that it doesn’t matter anyway.) Does that even square with what Sestak’s said in the past about having been offered “a job”?

Why, no, it doesn’t:

Let’s look back at what Rep. Sestak told local TV host Larry Kane in February.

KANE: “Were you ever offered a federal job to get out of this race?”

SESTAK: “Yes.”

KANE: “Was it secretary of the Navy?”

SESTAK: “No comment”

Later Kane asks again, “Was there a job offered to you by the White House?” to which Sestak nods and replies “yes, someone offered it.”

Kane asks “It was big right?” Sestak replies, “Let me “no comment” on it.”

“Was it high-ranking?” Kane asked. Sestak said yes.

Watch the clip. I don’t see the part where Sestak says it was high-ranking, but according to interviewer Larry Kane, “he admitted that it was a ‘high up’ job.” Anyone seriously think Sestak considered some lame “advisory” title to be something “high up”? Oh, and another thing: If all that was at stake here was an innocent li’l advisory position, why would the White House initially deny to Kane that any offer had been made? Jonah Goldberg sums it up:

I can only conclude that Sestak is either lying or a blowhard. Because, if he’s telling the truth, that means he mistook a casual offer for a seat on some advisory board (Maritime Commission for the Rules of Card Games on Both Sides of the International Dateline or the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Perils of Accumulated Naval Navel Lint) as some kind of serious bribe to stay out of the Senate race. Right? I mean the whole point of Sestak spilling the beans about the “job offer” was for him to bolster his independent-against-the-machine cred. If it wasn’t a job offer but instead was some third-rate perk, he shouldn’t have pretended otherwise to seem like the one honest man in the whorehouse of politics.

The GOP’s not buying it — “The White House got Bill Clinton involved for this?” — but there’s really no recourse to getting answers short of relentless media pressure, and we all know how likely that is. In fact, the CW has quickly settled on a “this is how D.C. operates” narrative, with the White House’s only sin lying in the fact that it acted guilty even though it wasn’t. Two things in response. One: Per the terms of the governing statute, pretty clearly they are guilty. 18 U.S.C. 600:

Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

It doesn’t have to be a paid position and it doesn’t have to be a direct promise. Which brings me to point two: Why do we even have federal statutes that criminalize this sort of thing? If it’s all about the Beltway and horse-tradin’ and deals and handshakes and blah blah jaded politico blah, then repeal section 600 and embrace the smoke-filled room in earnest. In fact, I vaguely recall that we were promised, circa Fall 2008, that the culture of D.C. was going to Change. Enlisting Slick Willie to bribe an upstart candidate and then lying about the position he was offered, as they’re obviously doing right now, is the very antithesis of that. And yet, I’d bet cash money that this story will be allowed to sink beneath the waves next week.

Via RCP, below the Sestak clip you’ll find video of Slick himself clearly not wanting to talk about this. With good reason.


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Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Ummm no, the Gonzalez attorney firings is analogous to the Reno attorney firings. Not the current Sestak matter. Once again you fail at basic logic.

Except how many attorneys did Reno fire? Oh that’s right, Reno fired 93 attorneys… how many did Gonzalez fire?…. 8. But somehow Gonzalez firing 8 attorneys was in your words:

one of the sleaziest things I’ve ever seen in politics, and I see a lot of sleazy politics on a day to day basis.


It seems to me you have a pretty weighted political bias & shouldn’t be trusted.

Keep on arguing that ignorance of the law is a defense though… it’s getting pretty hilarious!

tetriskid on May 29, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Oh, come on. People in this administration resigning over mere sleaziness? LOL

ddrintn on May 29, 2010 at 1:58 PM

I don’t think Van Jones did anything illegal, but he had to resign.

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Sorry, you’re getting sick of it. Your comments just always sound like there is nothing you detest more than Republican politics. Perhaps it’s the manner in which you debate most of the folks here (who for the most part are Conservative/Republican/Libertarian etc) as if you think they’re abject retards. One would just generally get the impression you’re more sympathetic to Liberal Politics. Sorry, just the way you sound.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM

Except how many attorneys did Reno fire? Oh that’s right, Reno fired 93 attorneys… how many did Gonzalez fire?…. 8.

Good God. You guys are still repeating that talking point?

crr6 on May 29, 2010 at 2:57 PM

tetriskid on May 29, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Yeah, I see what he claims his voting background to be, but the tener of his comments makes me scratch my head to think that even someone who considers themself a RINO, finds much more agrument with folks from his “political leanings” than he ever does with the Donks.

You saw what he wrote above though; claims to be a Bush man, twice! I’ll have to take his word for it.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM

I understand that. I don’t know, I don’t see the point in commenting on threads where I mostly agree with what everyone is saying.

I’m mostly conservative. I believe a free market and lower taxes is generally a good thing. I also think that some extremist conservatives believe that, because free markets and lower taxes are *generally* a good thing, they must *always* be a good thing. And I don’t think that’s the case. Some regulation is good. Some taxes are good.

The early progressive movement in the late 19th and early 20th century had the same attitude about democracy – they believed that, because democracy was good, things that made our system more democratic were automatically “more good.” I don’t buy into that.

Anyway, mostly I just like talking politics and joking around – I assume everyone takes my insults as personally as I take theirs, which is, to say, not at all.

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Good God. You guys are still repeating that talking point?

crr6 on May 29, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Wonders! I agree with you twice in one thread. All in the same comment.

You’re right, God is good. And it’s nice to see folks not afraid to spell “God” out.

And secondly, the Reno/Gonzalez attorney firings are more of an example/argument as to the obvious bias of the MSM. I don’t understand either what bearing the Donks unloading all the Bush attorneys has to do with this possible bribery episode.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:13 PM

You saw what he wrote above though; claims to be a Bush man, twice! I’ll have to take his word for it.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM

I don’t regret either of those votes and I think Bush was a good president who will, at least partially, be vindicated. He’s a good man with good intentions. I think he made some serious mistakes, but I’m not sure whether any alternatives would have been better. Liberals treated him terribly- the stuff about how he was stupid, but also, somehow New Hitler was just absurd. The idea that the Patriot Act, which was designed to stop terrorism, was somehow Bush trying to turn America into some totalitarian state is as silly as Republicans thinking that Obama trying to prevent the economy from collapsing was an example of how *he* was trying to turn America into a totalitarian state.

Anyway, W. is a class act.

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Fair enough. I’ve always thought threads were a tough place to read intent and attitude. Probably shouldn’t in the first place.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:17 PM

I don’t understand either what bearing the Donks unloading all the Bush attorneys has to do with this possible bribery episode.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:13 PM

That was my fault, I guess. I was comparing this Sestak incident to the Gonzalez attorney firings as an example of times when administrations acted sleazily, but not illegally.

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Okay, now you made me feel bad.
I suppose it would be nice to hear the positive stuff more from each other every once in a while. I think the content of your last comment is my biggest problem. In the military we loved President Bush. Over the course of those eight years when he was attacked, we largely took it personal. I know there are things that I probably defend him too much for and might even fall into the “going overboard” category in the way I look at his presidency; but I figure his detractors post enough on the other side of the coin that I certainly don’t need to pile on. And in a larger sense, the vitriolic behavior of the Donks during that time has really served to harden my feelings on this spirit of trying to be bipartisan and keep the discourse civil.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:27 PM

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Hmm, I hope you read that the way I wrote it. I didn’t have a problem with your comment, I mean I probably have a problem really only looking at the Bush Presidency throught the eyes of someone who served under him.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:33 PM

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:27 PM

I think the outrage about the President has been perspective-free since the 90s. Back when we got our news only once a day from one or two sources, we had to give priority to stories. The Sestak thing would be a blip. The stupid UAE Ports deal “scandal” would have been a blip. As they should be. But with the Internet, we have a million sources all delivering news at once, you can read only stuff you agree with, and you lose all perspective.

If all you read was Hot Air (and remember that Hot Air is actually pretty reasonable most of the time), you’d think Obama was the worst President in the world. And why wouldn’t you? Hardly ever a good story about the guy, regardless of what he does.

I’d rather have what we have now as opposed to a *lack* of information, but I do think the constant onslaught of information causes us to lose perspective.

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Hmm, I hope you read that the way I wrote it. I didn’t have a problem with your comment, I mean I probably have a problem really only looking at the Bush Presidency throught the eyes of someone who served under him.

hawkdriver on May 29, 2010 at 3:33 PM

No I got you, that was a great post.

Proud Rino on May 29, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Will some adult *please* remind the kids that it’s naughty to hijack threads and Spam for five pages, even if one of them is working undercover for Kos?

I miss Hot Air.

Venusian Visitor on May 29, 2010 at 4:19 PM

ED, Allah, why do you only cite the 1st part of the relevant article from NRO? Later in the piece it begs the question, if they had done nothing wrong why did they get back to the comcast reporter who broke it with an outright denial, and in doing all but directly call Sestak a liar. Note the bolded parts of the piece in its entirety:

The Man Who Asked ‘The Question’ Speaks [Robert Costa]


Larry Kane, the host of a Comcast Network public-affairs show in Philadelphia, is the veteran reporter who first asked Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) back in February whether he was offered a “federal job” to get out of his Senate race against Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.):

KANE: “Were you ever offered a federal job to get out of this race?”

SESTAK: “Yes.”

KANE: “Was it secretary of the Navy?”

SESTAK: “No comment”

Later Kane asks again, “Was there a job offered to you by the White House?” to which Sestak nods and replies “yes, someone offered it.”

Kane asks “It was big right?” Sestak replies, “Let me ‘no comment’ on it.”

“Was it high-ranking?” Kane asked. Sestak said yes.

This afternoon, National Review Online caught up with Kane to get his take on the White House memo.

“After Sestak said on my show, without hesitation, that he had been offered a federal position, I, along with Tom Fitzgerald of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was in the studio doing a ‘day in the life’ piece on Sestak, called up the White House,” Kane recalls. “We got on the phone with the deputy press secretary there, who said they’d get back to us right away. Yet the phone didn’t ring again until 6:45 a.m. the next morning.”

“When the White House finally called back, they denied it,” Kane says. “Strategically, the White House press person I spoke with said Sestak’s statement ‘was not true.’ So I pressed: Was anything, at all, dangled? She repeated that all she could say was that Sestak’s words ‘were not true.’ Looking back, I was curious as to why it took so many hours for them to respond. And now I’m curious as to why it took so many months to issue this report. Why did they let it drift?”

“When I asked [Sestak] that question, he answered in a nanosecond,” Kane observes. “No hesitation, no pause. I figured something was up, especially after he kept resisting further explanations these past few months.”

Kane says his sources, who told him about the federal-job rumor, are “impeccable.” He notes that as far back as summer 2009, there “was buzz in Pennsylvania political circles, and especially in Washington, about some kind of meeting.”

05/28 03:14 PMShare

I’ve been out of this thread since this AM, so if someone else has already pointed this out, my apologies.

Archimedes on May 29, 2010 at 4:44 PM

And why does Obama offering Mabus the position of Secretary of Navy exclude the possibility that he also promised it to Sestak? Have you looked at the history of Secretary’s of Navy?

Including Mabus, three have already served under Obama. Not a lot of longevity in that position.

sarainitaly on May 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM

What was that green goo stuff they used(?) to sell to the kids? What was that called? Rhymes with crime and rhyme . . . . Hmmm . . . . Tip of my tongue kinda thing . . . . Slippery all these words can be . . . . That reminds me! I gotta clean my aquarium!

Sherman1864 on May 31, 2010 at 4:50 AM

How do you spell “special prosecutor,” Mr. Attorney General?

But wait, Eric Holder is part of the cover-up.

Don’t worry, the left-wing media will demand a full explanation of this violation of federal law.

Oh, they’re part of the cover-up, too?

Then, all that self-righteous Watergate press coverage was nothing but a cheap political trick to unseat a sitting president by the left-wing media?

Wow! I guess the playing field really does need to be leveled.

Who would have thought?

Stepan on May 31, 2010 at 5:57 AM

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