Friday, May 28, 2010

Coming Soon: The "Official" Statement on Jobgate

It appears the Sestak-White House job offer mess will come to a head soon. (My print column is up.)

But several questions were raised yesterday by the president's performance at his presser. He told reporters that nothing "improper" occurred and that an "official" statement would be forthcoming on the matter sooner rather than later.

That it has taken this long for the White House to quit stonewalling and come up with its version of its talk with Joe about quitting the primary suggests, at the very least, something very stupid occurred. If Sestak is telling the truth (and I think he is) some White House honcho made it clear to Joe that if he got out of the race he could expect a nice big plum of a job.

Such an offer is arguably a crime. But such offers, we understand, are a matter of routine. The more the public finds out about these sorts of deals being offered the more cynical the public becomes about Washington and its ways of doing business. (Think Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback to buy votes for a healthcare bill the public didn't want.)

It would have been more accurate for the president to have said "nothing uncommon" occurred in the Sestak matter. But think about it. It has been four months since Sestak blew the whistle on the offer.

At first the White House angrily and "vociferously" denied such an offer was made. Nothing improper about that? Indirectly and falsely calling a member of your own party a liar is, well, a little uncommon, even for this White House. It took a few weeks but the White House started to walk back from its flat out denial to its "nothing inappropriate occurred" stance.

Others, including the Administration's preferred senate candidate Arlen Specter, said that if what Sestak alleged was true, a felony had been committed by someone in the White House. White House advisor David Axelrod recently agreed that a job offer to Sestak to get out of the race would "constitute a serious breach of the law." But he said there is no evidence that happened.

No evidence? Well, there is the word of Congressman Sestak that it did. So now we await the "official" White House statement on the matter. Sestak says he will wait for the statement and then respond to it publicly.

Yesterday the president, for the first time, commented on the matter. At the same press conference, on another matter, he said he didn't know whether his administration's Director of Minerals Management Service, Liz Birnbaum was fired or resigned.

"She was fired," a New York Times reporter informed him.

Nice. The New York Times seems to know more about what is going on in his administration than President Obama does.

It is fair to conclude that Obama doesn't know, one way or another, if anything "improper" occurred in the Sestak matter. No doubt, he has been told that by his underlings. That's their story and they're sticking to it. Fine. But the president has promised an "official" statement that explains what did happen. It's four months late in coming but better late than never.

And it better be good.

UPDATE: Sestak says the White House spoke to his brother, Richard, Wednesday to tell him a statement would be released Friday.

UPDATE II: Quote of the day:
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.
A ringing endorsement.

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