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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama will dither about this too
Posted by Jill | 6:03 AM
Remember how John Kerry believed that "Americans are too smart to believe these lies", when the Swift Boat Liars ran their ads accusing this decorated veteran of being a coward, and promoted George W. Bush, who spent the Vietnam War not showing up for the National Guard gig his daddy got him?

Let's hope Barack Obama doesn't make the same mistake about this:

WASHINGTON -- The zeal that Rep. Darrell Issa has brought to his pursuit of the allegations that the White House dangled some kind of job in front of Joe Sestak last year while they were trying to muscle him out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary is impressive, if also a little amusing. Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, has been thundering about an alleged bribe, using scary words like "impeachable," "crime" and "ethics complaint." (Actually, considering how rarely the House Ethics Committee can be roused to do anything about lawmakers, that last one isn't so scary.)

But as Alex Pareene has already noted, this isn't exactly the first time someone in politics cut a deal for a job. When Sen. Judd Gregg was going to leave Congress to join the Obama administration -- which, in the end, he didn't do, because he realized he disagreed with everything President Obama stands for -- he wasn't going to take the appointment to become commerce secretary unless his replacement in New Hampshire's Senate seat would caucus with the GOP.

So Salon asked Issa's office what, exactly, the difference between the two situations is. At first, Issa's staff insisted they were nothing alike. "That never happened, at the end of the day," Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said of the Gregg appointment quid pro quo. "It never played out."

That's because Gregg declined the appointment, and never vacated his seat. (Democrats are hoping to seize it in this fall's election, anyway.) But that isn't actually a distinction between the Gregg situation and the Sestak situation, because as it happens, the Sestak scenario "never played out," either; Sestak refused to drop out of the race and wound up winning the nomination. Bardella said that made the Sestak allegations even worse, because if he had taken the job and dropped out, it would have changed the course of an election. And at first, he said Gregg hadn't actually confirmed the contours of the deal the way Sestak had spoken of the offer from the White House.

After we hung up, though, I found a quote from a Gregg statement, making clear he wanted a Republican appointed (and another quote from Gregg's appearance with Obama, where he thanked New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, for "his courtesy and courage in being willing to make this possible through the agreement that we have").

Which, to Bardella's credit, and Issa's, meant he changed his tune a little bit.

"If the White House had come to Judd Gregg and said, 'We will make you the secretary of commerce, in exchange for which we will guarantee the appointment of a Republican,' that would be just as wrong," Bardella said. (Which is, of course, exactly what happened.) "That would be worthy of the same scrutiny and would still be a violation of how [Obama] said he would govern. Once you vacate your seat, you announce your intention to take another job, you lose the right to dictate what should happen to that seat. No one person owns a seat ... Offices in the United States Congress should not ever be used as bargaining chips."

So to recap: Issa's staff says Gregg's deal is just as bad as the one Sestak alleged. We'll pause here to allow for the angry phone calls and e-mails back and forth between people who work for Gregg and Issa. (And while we wait, we also have a call in to Gregg's office for comment, which wasn't immediately returned.)

Let's not forget that Republicans regard ANY Democrat who is elected President by the will of the people as illegitimate. This is a party that has embraced the teabaggers and the birthers and is looking for ANY EXCUSE WHATSOEVER to remove this president from office. They did it before with Bill Clinton, when they tried to impeach him for lying about an affair -- something their peeps do all the time. They will trump up bullshit, and their lackeys in the media will huff and puff and clutch their pearls in outrage. Because where the media is concerned, the IOKIYAR rule always applies. (And yes, I'm talking to you, Chuck Todd.)

But remember one thing: Whatever this president's shortcomings, he's got a lot on his plate right now: a still-faltering economy, a persistent terrorist threat from the Middle East, a rise in right-wing violence and threats of violence here at home, tension between the Koreas, Europe on the brink of chaos, and an oil company run amok in the Gulf of Mexico. The last time the Republicans decided to impeach a president over nonsense, the effort failed because Americans regarded him as a lovable scamp. Barack Obama's cool aloofness will not serve him as well.

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