Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quid Pro Quo and High Crimes and Misdemeanors

One has to wonder why the latest potentially huge scandal to involve the Obama White House was released to the press on Friday before a three-day holiday weekend when most people were not paying as great attention to the news cycle prior to leaving for their Memorial Day festivities. In case you are one of the folks that might have missed the story, it would seem that the months’ long-percolating story that originated when Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak stated that the White House had offered him a job in exchange for his not running in the Democratic senate primary against the capricious and self-serving Arlen Specter finally was acknowledged by the White House on Friday. Well Mr. Sestak declined the job offer and ran in the primary in which he ended up beating Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination for the seat. (He will oppose the Republican Pat Toomey for the seat in November and will hopefully lose badly.)

The White House released their statement yesterday stating that Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel asked former President Clinton to ask Representative Sestak if he would consider their proposal via Mr. Sestak’s brother. Now considering that both Bill Clinton and Rahm Emanuel are involved, it seems impossible that this was done without President Obama’s knowledge and explicit approval of this offer. The White House insisted that the offer was for a non-paying job as a member on a presidential advisory board, and therefore was of no monetary value and thus not a bribe in violation of the federal law.

First, as a former Navy admiral it strikes me as extremely unlikely that the Mr. Sestak would consider giving up a senatorial run in exchange for a non-paying advisory job to the president. That simply does not pass the smell test and strongly suggests that again the Obama administration is lying. Further, this story released today by the White House at a time when the least amount of people would notice it was preceded by a luncheon between President Clinton and President Obama the day before the press release on Thursday. Was this done so that they could corroborate their stories with each other, one wonders?

Further, if this was an “informal” inquiry, and not an explicit offer made by President Clinton to Mr. Sestak on behalf of those in the White House, as the administration has stated, so that no laws were broken as no specific quid pro quo was ever offered, why did they not come out and say this months ago and thereby put the story to rest, rather than let questions and speculation build over the intervening months since Sestak first made the statement of having been offered this job. Mr. Sestak, for his part, has since been very dutiful to the White House and has refused to elaborate on the specifics. He concurred today with the White House press release on the matter.

There are those in congress that have requested that a special investigation be pursued into the matter; something which Attorney General Eric Holder has refused thus far. One has to assume that had George Bush been suspected of having offered a job to a fellow Republican in order to help a party-member of congress, that the Democrats would be SCREAMING for a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations and rightfully so.

The issue is that there was a seemingly illegal quid pro quo offer of an executive branch job for Sestak if he would withdraw from running against the incumbent Senator Specter. Article II Section 4 of the United States Constitution states, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” This offer of a job, even in the unlikely case that it was an “unpaid job” as the White House stated, still has significant value and influence and therefore meets the definition of bribery; an impeachable offense. Now, I am certain that in the very unlikely event that the Democratic congress and the their fawning media were to pursue this matter to its conclusion, the sacrificial scape goat would be Rahm Emanuel. It is exceptionally unlikely that President Obama would be implicated, despite the all-most-assured part he played in this.

The sad thing is that everyone is saying that this sort of thing happens all the time in Washington and it is part of the political game. I suspect that is indeed true, however, it is still wrong and especially so when an explicit quid pro quo is offered on behalf of the executive branch. I was under the mistaken perception that President Obama came to office to change this “politics as usual” and restore our faith in government. It would appear that he has not changed things but rather augmented Washington D.C. politics with Chicago-style politics. This is not the change I was looking for, but is indeed what I had expected from President Obama.


S.W. Anderson said...

". . .This offer of a job, even in the unlikely case that it was an “unpaid job” as the White House stated, still has significant value and influence . . ."

That is simply not true, not in a practical sense and certainly not in a legal sense. Take it to any court in the land and see how fast the defense lawyer asks for a summary dismissal, and how fast the judge grants dismissal.

I think your seizing on this is just a manifestation of your dislike for and mistrust of Obama.

After enduring so many scandal-ridden Republican administrations, I feel qualified to say this advisory job offer is trivial. Trying to make it any more than that comes off as pathetic nonsense.

T. Paine said...

Anderson, on the contrary, this meets the very definition of bribery to which the relevant federal statue was referring.

The fact that this is so commonplace now in politics doesn't make it less of a crime. This is especially true when a specific quid pro quo offer of a job in exchange for a politically motivated action is offered.

Further, while I do dislike and mistrust Obama BASED on his ACTIONS, I do try to be objective as possible about him.

For instance, I find those that criticize Obama for the BP incident to be way off base. That is not his fault. It is BP's.

lisa said...

The democrats invited this themselves due to the vicious attacks by them especially over the Valerie Plame "non-incident" that the media got a thrill up their legs by reporting every day for 2 years.

T. Paine said...

Lisa, you are absolutely correct there, ma'am!

Dave Splash said...

Non scandal. Look up grasping at straws in the dictionary, and there is a picture of you.

After the hundreds of real scandals in the Bush Admin. that you guys shrugged off, it's hilarious that you guys try to make such a non-scandal into Watergate.

Really. This is laughable. I'm disappointed in you, Paine.

And, Lisa, the Valerie Plame issue was extremely serious. But that was a Republican scandal, so naturally, you dismiss it. Explain how destroying the career (by intentionally outing) of an undercover CIA agent specializing in Middle East WMD for political purposes is a non-issue. Especially because her husband (who the Bushies were retaliating against) was RIGHT! There were no WMDs. And then, for Libby to commit perjury (which is a crime for Democrats, I guess, but not for Repubs?) while Bush and Cheney were allowed to "testify" together and not under oath, is the icing on the cake. Why couldn't Cheney be put under oath? Because the man lies as much as he breathes.

Yet, you feel a casual conversation about a non-paid advisory position (which would not require one to leave their Congressional seat) is a scandal?

Try not looking through everything with a partisan lens, and you'll see how laughable your argument is.