‘TIME TO MOVE ON’…. One of the more annoying angles to the Sestak “story” was the underlying dullness. In any political “controversy,” there are best-case and worse-case scenarios when measuring severity and consequences. When it came to the Sestak allegations, under the best-scenario, the story was meaningless. Under the worst-case scenario, it was still meaningless.
It was one of those rare stories in which news outlets played along, knowing full well that the entire matter was manufactured silliness.
And now that the story had run its course, those who know what they’re talking about want to put a period at the end of already-obvious sentence. Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics officer under George W. Bush, took a look at the information released yesterday and told Greg Sargent that it’s even clearer now that there’s nothing of interest here.
“Based on the information disclosed from the White House, it’s even more apparent that this is a non issue,” Painter said. “No scandal. Time to move on.”
Sam Stein talked to Steve Bunnell, who led the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and has seen more public corruption cases that practically any lawyer in the country. He not only said the Sestak matter passes the smell test, he told Stein there’s nothing to smell.
“I looked through it,” Steve Bunnell of the firm O’Melveny & Myers, said of the job-offering related document released by the White House on Friday. “I don’t see anything criminal about what happened. Basically you are talking about political horse-trading, which strikes me as an inherent part of democracy. There is nothing inherently bad about it unless you think politics and democracy are bad.”
Bunnell added, “I don’t understand what the big deal is.”
Join the club.
Stepping back, it’s also hard to miss the trend — conservatives become convinced they’ve stumbled onto some wildly important “controversy,” work themselves into a tizzy, and look pretty silly when the facts come out. Remember how excited the right was about the Gerald Walpin firing? Or the time conservatives were convinced that the White House was closing car dealerships based on owners’ political contributions?
Kevin Drum had a very good item a year ago, arguing that there’s nothing especially wrong with far-right activists watching the administration like a hawk, doing what the opposition is supposed to do. There’s certainly something to be said for this — if conservatives want to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire, more power to ’em. It’s what being politically engaged is all about.
The problem is, these folks keep crying “wolf” without thinking it through. Conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts are constantly finding scandalous schemes and outrageous abuses relating to the White House, all of which appear pretty foolish soon after. As a result, it’s easy to start ignoring them.
Maybe the right can start being a little more selective?