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Ticket Replay: Obama White House probe of Obama White House finds no Obama White House misdeeds

December 20, 2010 | 10:24 am

Pennsylvania Democrats Representative Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter

During the holiday season, as in years past, The Ticket is republishing some of our favorite items from the previous political year. This story was originally published on May 24, 2010:

Obviously, nothing to see over here, folks. Move along now.

Joe Sestak, the newly-elected Democratic Senate nominee from Pennsylvania, repeated his assertion Sunday that somebody he did not identify from the Obama White House offered him an administration job he did not detail, possibly in return for him dropping out of his undesirable primary challenge of Arlen "I Was a Republican Before I Realized I Was a Democrat" Specter.

Obviously, Sestak didn't accept the offer. And Specter didn't win a primary race that he feared losing if he stayed a Republican. 

On NBC's "Meet the Press" David Gregory asked Sestak about the job offer.

Here's the exchange:

MR. GREGORY: What, what job were you offered to stay out of a primary race by the administration?

REP. SESTAK: It's interesting. I was asked a question about something that....

...happened months earlier, and I felt I should answer it honestly. And that's all I had to say about it because anything beyond that gets away from what we just spoke about.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. SESTAK: What are the policies that are really going to help people who've been slammed by the economy...

MR. GREGORY: All right, but you've campaigned on transparency. It's part of the politics. You talked about standing up to the White House when they'd fielded a candidate--made a deal with Arlen Specter. So isn't it in the--in the spirit of transparency, were you offered a job by the administration? And what was it?

REP. SESTAK: I learned, as I mentioned, about that personal accountability in the Navy.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

REP. SESTAK: I felt I needed to answer that question honestly because I was personally accountable for my role in the matter.

MR. GREGORY: What's the answer? What's the job you were offered?

REP. SESTAK: And--but anybody else has to decide for themselves what to say upon their role, and that's their responsibility.

MR. GREGORY: Yes or no, straightforward question. Were you, were you offered a job, and what was the job?

REP. SESTAK: I was offered a job, and I answered that.

Blank Photo of White House official who offered Joe Sestak an administration job for dropping out of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary race

MR. GREGORY: You said no, you wouldn't take the job. Was it the secretary of the Navy?

REP. SESTAK: Right. And I also said, "Look, I'm getting into this...

MR. GREGORY: Was it the secretary of the Navy job?

REP. SESTAK: Anything that go--goes beyond that is others--for others to talk about.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Obama press secretary Robert "The Artful Dodger" Gibbs about the Sestak offer.

Here's that exchange:

SCHIEFFER: One final question. Joe Sestak, who beat Arlen Specter -- and the White House, of course, was backing Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary up there -- all these reports that the White House offered him some sort of job, some sort of post in the administration if he wouldn't run. Would you tell us what -- what post he was offered?

GIBBS: Well, Bob, I'm not a lawyer. But lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak. And nothing inappropriate happened.

I think Republicans are continuing to dredge this up because, if you look just a couple of days after this primary, the polling shows that Republicans are already behind in a very important Senate race.

SCHIEFFER: Improper or not, did you offer him a job in the administration?

GIBBS: I'm not going to get further into what the conversations were. People that have looked into them assure me that they weren't inappropriate in any way.

SCHIEFFER: Robert Gibbs, thank you very much for being with us.

The self-cleansing investigation of themselves is a favored tactic of the ex-state senator; See this Obama-Blagojevich Ticket item from 2008, and relies on the media dropping it.

It should also be noted that even though Sestak is a two-term House member, he's running as a let's-clean-up-Dodge candidate. But now he won't say who from the White House offered him what to get out of Dodge.

Sestak did reveal that President Obama, who campaigned for Specter against Sestak, was the first to call, congratulate and offer to support Sestak this fall. That's an offer of dubious usefulness in that state of small people in small towns bitterly clinging to their guns and religion.

Especially seeing as how the Democratic president is now 0-4 in such select endorsement contests since November. But it's not something from the party leader that the newly-stamped party candidate can reject out of hand either.

The way modern American politics operates, it is now no longer in Sestak's interests to fight with Obama. And Obama's call was an implicit peace offering designed to keep him quiet, if not happy. 

Because it sure isn't in the interests of a president who promised to change the way Washington works to have a smoldering quid pro quo Navy-gate scandal traced back to a smoke-filled Oval Office.

Hence, Gibbs' artful dodge, in the hopes that this week the rest of the media will drop this line of questioning as quickly as Schieffer did.

Related Items:

So, Mr. President, how's that Guantanamo closing promise coming along?

Transparent Robert Gibbs successfully deflects 13 straight media questions

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty Images (Sestak); George Widman / Associated Press (Specter); Blank photo of unidentified administration official not talking to Sestak.

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