NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The Obama Administration has made a breathtakingly stupid blunder. The political-class in Washington must have let out a collective gasp when it was revealed that former president Bill Clinton who acted as the go-between to see if Rep. Joe Sestak would drop out of a U.S. Senate primary in exchange for a political appointment. That sound you heard was the DC crowd's jaws dropping. Anyone who thought this administation was smarter politically than the rest now has a moment of pause.
The specifics of the case no longer matter, because the person who will be providing the specifics has committed perjury in the past. The voracity of Bill Clinton’s statements will always be an open question. He may tell the truth, that he approached Sestak’s brother to see if the candidate was interested in a non-paid political appointment. He may say something else, if there's political benefit to himself or his wife.
Bill Clinton has an axe to grind with Barack Obama. He was publicly bitter about the long, bruising primary fight between the current president and Hillary Clinton. Bill offered only luke-warm support for Obama after the nomination was settled. If Obama ever faces a political challenge from within his own party, Hillary Clinton is his most-likely rival in 2012. And now the former President has a sharp sword to hold over the current administration. If Mr. Clinton were to publicly dispute the White House’s version of events, an investigation by a Special Prosecutor would surely follow. And Mr. Clinton knows better than anyone that a Special Prosecutor has almost unlimited powers, and those investigations can go on forever. In Clinton’s own White House what started out as an investigation into the Whitewater land deal in Arkansas eventually led to the totally-unrelated stained blue dress of Monica Lewinski.
Bill Clinton was at the White House for lunch yesterday. Conventional wisdom says it was a meeting to make sure everyone’s stories were straight. Of course. It was also a meeting for Clinton to name his price for sticking to the script. He now has the power to upset the Obama Administration’s apple cart.
Up until now the amateur in this drama had been Rep. Sestak. People are offered positions all the time in Washington for political reasons. It’s a known secret. Sestak’s foolishness was to talk about it publicly. But for the White House to use Bill Clinton as a go-between was an act of political malpractice. This is a story that “has legs”, is not going away, and can have long-lasting repercussions.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau
PS – Another case of dumb political timing: for years the Washington press corps has been accustomed to receiving news that reflects poorly on the White House on Friday afternoons. There’s even a phrase for it, “putting out the trash.” Late on a Friday most people are focused on weekend activities, and bad news can simply get lost.
The Sestak-Clinton story should never have been released on a Friday before a holiday weekend. The news cycle will be slow over the next three days. The President himself is on vacation and won’t be generating much news. The other big story, the Gulf oil spill, is status-quo. This story will stay in the news through the entire weekend. It will be the topic of the Fox News talking heads. It will be bigger when we all get back-to-work on Tuesday.