Politics is not a crime

POLITICS IS NOT A CRIME…. Add David Broder to the list of media voices who finds importance in the administration’s possible job offer to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).

Obama cut his political teeth in Chicago, where the Democratic Party had held formal “slating” sessions at which the elder Mayor Richard Daley and his colleagues decided who was worthy of machine backing for jobs large and small…. But Daley’s son, the current mayor, Richard M. Daley, has recognized that times have changed, even in Chicago, and in a system dominated by primaries, voters want to choose candidates for themselves.

Apparently, some operatives at the White House didn’t get the memo…. It’s not the only time that this White House has been caught ham-handedly trying to play party boss. The governor of New York and his appointee to the U.S. Senate have both been targets of such manipulation — with Gov. David Paterson being shoved out the door and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand protected from challenge.

So, David Broder is complaining because the president is a politician, and his White House exerts influence in developments related to his political party. In 2010, this is what constitutes a political controversy worthy of scrutiny, and to some, special prosecutors.

Maybe it’s me, but I get the impression that our political discourse is growing more farcical by the day.

Similarly, Slate‘s John Dickerson, whose work I usually enjoy, complained yesterday that a White House talking to a Senate candidate about a possible job offer is somehow inconsistent with the president’s promises about “new levels of transparency.”*

I’m not even sure what this means. Obama really has brought about the highest levels of transparency in American history. A phone call between an official and a candidate is evidence of secrecy? Is that where the bar has been set? Every conversation that takes place between a White House official and a member of Congress must be quickly made public or the president is violating a campaign promise?

This may be the shallowest, most vapid political controversy in years.

For what it’s worth, Jon Chait makes the case against the story at a conceptual level: “There’s no such thing as offering somebody a job in return for them dropping out of a Senate race. The acceptance of a job means dropping out of a Senate race. The concept of offering somebody a job “in exchange” for them declining to seek another job is like offering to marry a woman in exchange for her not marrying some other guy. It’s conceptually nonsensical.”

* Update: Dickerson emails to note that the reference to “new levels of transparency” was criticism of the White House response to questions, not the issue itself.