The pointless interest in the Sestak ‘job offer’

THE POINTLESS INTEREST IN THE SESTAK ‘JOB OFFER’…. During his Democratic primary fight against Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak claimed the Obama administration had offered him a job in the hopes he’d end his campaign. I’m still not exactly sure what point Sestak hoped to make — that he’s immune to pressure, perhaps? — but Republicans seized on the claim as potentially scandalous.

As foolish as this may be, the GOP is genuinely excited about this. Karl Rove told Fox News last night that the job offer may have been illegal, because the law “prohibits a federal official from interfering — a government employee — with the nomination or election for office.” Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” openly speculated this morning — without a hint of humor — about whether the job offer may have been an “impeachable offense.”

Now, predictably, real outlets are also starting to take this seriously, including the editorial board of the Washington Post. It was also a topic of conversation on the Sunday shows.

So, is there anything to this? Not really. To even call this a “controversy” is to define the term down to the point of meaninglessness.

First, the job that was reportedly offered to Sestak was a chance at becoming the secretary of the Navy. We know for sure that this isn’t true; the timeline of events proves it.

Second, the allegation at the root of the story is itself largely meaningless.

“People offer members of Congress things all the time,” Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and now the executive director of the liberal government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told CNSNews.com. “I don’t think there is any issue. I don’t see the crime.” […]

If it is true, such a trade would be an indictment of the system, Sloan of CREW said, but not likely illegal.

“A quid pro quo has to offer something of value in exchange for something,” Sloan said. “If you agree not to run for the Senate and we’ll make you secretary of the Navy — that offers no monetary value. It’s just the unseemly side of politics.”

Third, to me, it hardly even reaches the level of being “unseemly,” given how exceedingly common and routine occurrences like these are. Every White House for decades — even Ronaldus Magnus — intervened in key elections and used possible job opportunities when negotiating with candidates. Literally criminalizing politics is ridiculous, even by contemporary Republican standards.

But of particular interest is Karl Rove’s whining. If White House intervention in an election is illegal, Rove should prepare for a life sentence.

Indeed, as Satyam Khanna noted, “No one expects much from Fox, but could they have brought on a worse messenger to argue that the federal government should keep its hands out of elections? Remember GSA chief Lurita ‘cookies on the table‘ Doan and Rove’s powerpoint? The U.S. Attorney scandal? That whole year-long investigation into the Bush White House’s political activities? The list is endless. I guess all those guys should have been fined or thrown in the slammer.”

Move along. When it comes to the Sestak allegations, there’s really nothing to see here.