May 28th, 2010

The Sestak story hasn’t gone away

It may be that only political junkies are following it so far, but the Sestak flap has potential to grow, depending on what facts emerge as time goes on. Will the story get so dicey and spicey that the press cannot or will not ignore it? Can the administration’s stonewalling continue successfully?

In the meantime, we have the emergence of other players: Sestak’s brother, who is his campaign lawyer and has now talked to the White House (perhaps to get their stories on the same page?); and Bill Clinton, whom the Obama administration asked to talk to Sestak and ascertain how serious he was about his Senate challenge and whether he might be interested in considering an alternative career path.

My favorite quote from Sestak on the entire matter so far is this one:

Sestak declined to say whether the alleged job offer was inappropriate and defended Obama’s integrity. “I think the president’s a pretty legitimate, you know, person,” he said.

Jonathan Adler at Volokh’s offers the text of the relevant law that may have been violated. He also opines that whomever made the offer to Sestak may not have even known he/she was violating a law.

That’s irrelevant if true, although I’m not at all sure that’s true—Chicago rules and all that But my guess is that, when Sestak first made the offhand statement that the job had been offered to him by the administration, he was unaware of the potentially radioactive nature of the charges. Now he’s gotten caught up in them and can’t retreat without looking like a liar and a fool.

11 Responses to “The Sestak story hasn’t gone away”

  1. T Says:

    As a PA resident, My question is: “What does all of this tell us about Sestak?”

    Here is a candidate who makes a claim about an inappropriate job offer in a primary campaign (obviously to troll for votes) and, after he wins the primary does not want to reveal relevant information.

    Sestak’s reply of nothing more needs to be said about the matter is, itself, nothing more than duplicitous sanctimony.

  2. Pablo Says:

    White House issues memo clearing the Whiite House…shocker!
    Here’s the memo: http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/politics/Sestak%20Memorandum.pdf

  3. Stark Says:

    If BHO is smart, it is time to throw Rahm under the bus.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Stark: but Rahm may know where too many of the bodies are buried.

  5. LB100 Says:

    Dick Morris and Andrew Napolitano discuss the interesting idea of having Pennsylvania AG Tom Corbett, a Republican running for governor, convene a grand jury to investigate this situation: http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/2010/05/27/penn-ag-tom-corbett-should-empanel-grand-jury-in-sestak-affair/#more-1026

    One thing they don’t discuss in any detail is the subject matter jurisdiction question. The offer to Sestak sounds like a violation of federal law. I’ve never heard it mentioned as a violation of Pennsylvania law, which might limit the ability of Corbett to convene the grand jury. The article, however, claims that the doctrine of “universal jurisdiction” would overcome that apparent barrier. International law proponent Justice Kennedy would probably be receptive to the notion of “universal jurisdiction,” but I’m not sure how it would fly in a Pennsylvania court

  6. gcotharn Says:

    A crime was committed. Even the White House’ carefully lawyered statement gives this version of events: Clinton goes to Sestak, says he wants to feel out how serious Sestak is about running, says Rahm has spoken about considering Sestak for a plum appointment in the Executive.

    That is a job offer. Taken together: feeling out how serious Sestak is + Rahm has spoken about = job offer. That is a crime, and that conjunction of elements is directly admitted in the White House statement. According to the law in question, it doesn’t matter whether or not the job offer was direct or indirect.

    That Bill Clinton was sent to speak with Sestak only adds heft to the weight of the evidence. The White House clearly wanted Sestak out of the race.

    There’s probably little chance of an inquiry which goes beyond kabuki. However, if genuine inquiry somehow occurred, a delicious tension would exist between Rahm and Bill Clinton: one of them broke the law. Which? Each would want the other to go down. That would be SUCH a delicious skirmish. Too bad it will never happen. Someone should write a play which imagines the delicious legal skirmish between Rahm and Clinton did actually happen, and further resulted in skeletons being exposed in everyone’s closets. Ahhh. I would see this fairy tale for conservatives twice, and remember it forever.

  7. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Thanks, Neo. That quote is amazing. He was willing to say, on camera, that the President of the United States was not an illegitimate child… what a guy.

    I’m reminded of the time President Eisenhower was asked to say what leadership qualities Richard Nixon had — the man who had served as his vice-President for eight years, whom Eisenhower was then supporting in the race for the Presidency. Eisenhower replied, “If you give me a week, I’m sure I could think of something.” Talk about damning with faint praise!

    Maybe the President was willing to offer Sestak a plum job in order to keep him out of the race. I doubt the President will ever look upon him that favorably again.

  8. Occam's Beard Says:

    “I think the president’s a pretty legitimate, you know, person,” he said.

    But only by a few months.

  9. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    We should keep talking in hopes of it staying fresh. But the Walpin story and the ACORN story are vanishing beneath the waves as we speak.

  10. Curtis Says:

    There are two issues on the public’s mind today: Sestak and the ocean gusher. I predict that Sestak will fade away. The Republicans do not have what it takes to press it and it outrages no-one. There may be some sound and fury, but this does not capture the public’s fancy.

    On the other hand, the ocean gusher presents Obama’s own supporters as the ones most angry with him; for the first time, they are asking good questions and expressing discontent with his answers. His aloofness has violated their sense of passion with regards to the environment. This is a war of the gods: obama v gaia. And while the Sestak question is legal, technical, and unsensational, the effects of the ocean gusher are immediate, photographic and sensational.

  11. OlderandWheezier Says:

    gcotharn:

    It’s a great idea, but I’m not sure I could sit through the obligatory shower scene.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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