If the Obama White House believes the controversy surrounding the administrations engagement with Congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) will “go gently into that goodnight,” they are sorely mistaken. The more we Americans learn of the affair, the more questions we have.
In February of this year, cable talk-show host Larry Kane asked Sestak if the Obama administration had offered him a job if he would abandon his primary campaign against Senator Arlen Specter. The story had apparently been floating around the Washington press corps for many months, yet no one had bothered to ask Sestak if it were true. Sestak responded, “Yes.” Kane followed up by asking if the job was “big.” To this question, Sestak also responded, “Yes.”
Fifteen hours later White House officials responded that the story was untrue. According to the administration, Sestak was a liar! The administration continued its denial throughout the primary election, which Sestak won.
Alas, the rather vociferous denial by the administration spokespersons is contradicted by their most recent response. A long three months after the initial allegations were made the administration released a memo outlining an alleged conversation that Sestak had with former President Bill Clinton. According to the memo, Clinton was to determine if Sestak was serious about making a run for the Senate and talked to him about taking a non-paying position on a presidential commission instead. This most recent response begs the question: Was the administration lying then? Or is it lying now?
Politicians are notorious for the size of their egos. Frankly, the idea that Sestak would forgo the chance to become a senator in order to sit on some ambiguous commission stretches the limits of credulity. Moreover, it doesn’t jibe with Sestak’s description of an offer of a “high ranking,” “big,” “job.”
Apologists for the administration excuse the shenanigans as political business-as-usual. “Everyone does it,” they say. But Barak Obama was the president that was going to “fix the broken machinery of government.” This presidency was going to be the harbinger of a new era of ethical and transparent government. For an administration that was going to calm the oceans and heal the sick, behaving ethically should be a snap. At the very least, such an administration ought to be able to get its story straight.