It almost certainly costs me traffic, but I just don’t blog that much about scandals. Both sides have plenty of them, they’re usually not more than he said/she said, and half the time if you blog too soon about them you end up looking like an idiot.
And I certainly need no help with that last bit.
But the Sestak Stuff is just too good to pass up, with today’s breaking news that Bill Clinton served as White House emissary to Joe Sestak. Here’s what the White House says happened:
The report said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel enlisted Clinton’s help as a go-between with Sestak. Clinton agreed to raise the offer of a seat on a presidential advisory board or another executive board if Sestak dropped his bid, “which would avoid a divisive Senate primary,” the report said.
We get additional details from The Caucus report:
The White House disputed Republican claims that the conversations might be illegal or improper. “There was no such impropriety,” Robert F. Bauer, the White House counsel, said in a memo released to reporters. “The Democratic Party leadership had a legitimate interest in averting a divisive primary fight and a similarly legitimate concern about the congressman vacating his seat in the House.”
But further down, The Caucus quotes the relevant federal statute:
Federal law makes it a crime for anyone “who directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or any other benefit” to someone else “as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office.” It is also illegal for a government official to use “his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate” for Senate.
Four things seem pretty clear here.
1. The law was almost certainly broken.
2. It’s a damn silly law in this instance, outlawing a perfectly reasonable party function, and ought to be amended.
3. Republicans would be idiots to try and get charges filed – yet again! – against Bill Clinton. Don’t go there.
4. Republicans would be smart to keep this in the news, Chinese water torture style, all the way through the November election.
But honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if the GOP got everything wrong.
UPDATE: Elsewhere at Pajamas Media, my boss says that —
Frankly, I have a tad of nostalgia for Clinton because, Monica excluded, he was a much more sensible (and honest – believe it or not?) man than Obama and far less of a threat to our country and the world. Not nearly as much went wrong under eight years of Clinton’s watch than in less than two years of Obama’s. It’s pathetic, actually, that Bill is now so willing, as apparently he was, to carry water for the new President in this kind of cheesy operation. Can you imagine George W. Bush doing such a thing for some Republican president? I can’t.
I’d have even more nostalgia for Bill Clinton, if only he’d go away.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I’d forgotten that the White House tried the very same stunt here in Colorado a while back — probably because the Denver Post refuses to cover the story.