In every bit of polling I've seen this year, anyone trying to appeal to white, middle aged or older Catholic voters (the "religious bitter gunners" of Pennsylvania fame) needs distance from Barack Obama.
Congressman Joe Sestak got a lot of attention for saying that the White House tried to buy him out of the Democrat primary against Arlen Specter by offering him a job. White House mouthpiece Robert Gibbs's rather lame line of defense today was "trust us, nothing happened."
Political observers can be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that this is more evidence of "the Chicago Way."
But Sestak has every incentive to make up this story.
- It gives him distance from Obama–which he needs after voting in lockstep with the Obama agenda. It is much harder to paint Sestak as a tool of the White House now.
- It gives him stature—Oooh, I'm the guy the White House is afraid of!"
- It makes him look like an outsider—after a very political career as an Admiral and a voting record that put him deep INSIDE the Democrat establishment.
And there are also reasons to doubt that the White House would be this ham-handed, or that the allegations are true.
- Blogo-gate. The White House must be very aware of what can and cannot be done when it comes to Senate seats after being dragged through the Rod Blagojevich scandal.
- Sestak was not a big threat at the time. The strategy above may have actually WORKED.
- Sestak is completely non-specific. IF this happened, Joe Sestak knows WHO made the offer, and WHAT was offered and WHEN it was done. He is offering NONE of these details. That's fishy.
If I were advising Pat Toomey, I would tell him to cast doubt on Sestak's truthfulness and his motives—or at least find some surrogates to do it– until he comes clean. There is only ONE reason why he cannot come clean about the details in point 3 above.
If it never happened.