John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Business As Usual

Posted on May 24, 2010

Joe Sestak during his career in the Navy

On ABC’s weekly gab-fast “This Week” yesterday, America’s last remaining Whig, the bow-tied George Will, blithely dismissed the kerfluffle surrounding the latest accusations surrounding illegality in the White House.  “Business as usual,” he huffed.

But moments later, on a separate network, the one who was offered the bribe, Joe Sestak, acknowledged that he was offered such a deal – a high-ranking government appointment in exchange for a discontinued Senate.  “I was offered a job, but I am not going to tell you what it was.”

Most people assumed that it was Secretary of the Navy.  For those keeping notes, an appointment to become Secretary of the Navy is not worth a chance to knock off Arlen Specter, at least not at the current market rates.

This morning, a writer for the left-wing opinion site Slate, Joe Conason, opined that what the White House offered was probably illegal.

Give the RNC Chairman Michael Steele credit.  He has single-handedly made this business-as-usual-probably-illegal job offer an issue that the media is going to try to ignore as best it can until it can no longer ignore it anymore.

Mr. Will is right.  For this White House, this is business as usual.  But Mr. Conason is also right.  It is probably illegal.

So for the White House, they have a problem.   Their business as usual is probably illegal.

What Rahm Emanuel or whoever offered the job to Sestak did was probably well within the tradition of Chicago politics.  You offer this guy something here, and he goes away.  You offer that guy something there, and he becomes a friend for life.  In Chicago, it is called Machine politics.  But, increasingly, according to Justice Department investigators, this kind of Machine politics is called corruption.  And the City of Chicago political machine has been under such constant surveillance from the Feds, that City pols use some of the same tactics as the Mafia to avoid being wiretapped.

It was funny watching former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich make an appearance on Celebrity Apprentice last night.  He would know something about how this game works (or doesn’t work, in his case).  His offense – to auction off President Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder – really isn’t that much different from what the White House did with Joe Sestak.  Instead of demanding campaign contributions in exchange for the seat, the White House offered a plum government job to a problem politician in exchange for that guy not running for a seat.

To Sestak’s credit, he said thanks but no thanks.  But it can’t make the Congressman happy that this story of run-of-the-mill corruption is now permanently attaching to his name, just as his voting record is permanently attached to the Obama White House.  He may not have taken a job from the President, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take his marching orders from him.  In fact, he has voted in lock-step with the Obama Administration on every big vote of the last two years.

Business as usual?  Maybe.  But that doesn’t make it right.