Mr. Sestak was a thumb-sucker for Mr. Clinton. He is used to moving folks, especially members of Congress. The White House knew that. Why else would it send in such a heavy closer?
Frankly, I'm sort of shocked Mr. Clinton stooped to such a level. After all, earlier this month he single-handedly helped his party maintain control of a House seat in Pennsylvania's special election to replace the deceased Rep. John Murtha. Mr. Clinton was riding high as the party's secret weapon given his popularity and political legend status. Now, he looks like nothing more than a hooligan, hired to come in and bust the knee-caps of recalcitrant members like Mr. Sestak.
Even Keystone State Gov. Ed Rendell – a hard knocker by any standard – was scratching his head on this one. He said earlier last week that the drip-drip nature of this information is only undermining the White House and raising more questions than anyone cares to answer. And we know the administration's politicos have answers. That's probably why they're hiding and only surrendering bits at a time.
But they miscalculated in thinking Mr. Sestak had any clue on how to keep his side of the story under wraps. His awkward answers to questions only make President Obama's minions look all the more suspicious. Someone needs to teach Joe a new poker face.
The optics on this are indeed terrible. The president's party is hemorrhaging members and approval numbers, and the one time he tries to (quietly) shore up his political allies in the Senate such as Mr. Specter, the gun goes off in his hand. How embarrassing. Contrast the Sestak episode with the behavior of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat. Hot Rod wanted to sell Mr. Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder, and he directed some of the wheeling and dealing through his brother. We also learned last week that Mr. Sestak's brother, the congressman's top political aide, spoke with White House officials during this deal brokering. Let's hope the only thing being discussed between those parties was the size of Mr. Sestak's drapes in his new Senate digs and not collaborating on what story to tell the press corps.
The lesson is clear: No candidate for office should be asked to cease his or her campaign just to continue the status quo in this country, particularly the agenda of this president. It's dishonest and certainly not the American way. The ugly and public display of "he said/she said" is further indictment that this administration is losing its political grip, if not engaging in borderline criminal activity. No wonder Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele was giddy this Memorial Day weekend.
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