"We're looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington. It's a status quo that extends beyond any particular party, and right now that status quo is fighting back with everything it's got, with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face," said then-candidate Barack Obama on Jan. 26, 2008. "We're up against the idea that it's acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election."
In December 2008, just 10 months later, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, D-Ill., burst onto the national scene when he was arrested for corruption. One of the charges he faced was attempting to peddle President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Like millions of other Americans, I watched the soap opera story unfold on cable and network television. The potential connections to Obama and Blagojevich's inability to guard his speech provided ample opportunity for speculation.
While the Blagojevich saga continued in Illinois, President-elect Barack Obama and his team transitioned smoothly into Washington, D.C.
There were still connections. It was Obama's open Senate seat that was allegedly up for sale. Valerie Jarrett, now a senior White House adviser, was a potential contender for this same seat. Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, succeeded Blagojevich as Illinois 5th District congressman in 2003.
However, the taint of corruption has managed to stay in Chicago, a city known for machine politics, rather than move into Washington, D.C.
Until last week, that is. The juxtaposition is surreal.
Last Friday, after months of silence regarding a potential White House job offer for Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., if he did not run in the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer released a memo addressing the events.
Titled, "Review of Discussions Relating to Congressman Sestak," the memo noted the "White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton, who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate Candidacy."
The short version: We did nothing wrong, we asked the former president to help, and the job offered would have been unpaid.
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