Opinion Brief

Did the White House try to 'bribe' Joe Sestak?

The GOP wants to know if the White House offered Rep. Sestak a job so he would drop out of last week's Democratic primary against Sen. Arlen Specter

Pressure is mounting on the Obama administration to address charges that it offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job to entice him to reconsider his run against Sen. Arlen Specter. Sestak, who last week defeated Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary, first mentioned the offer three months ago and confirmed it last weekend on Meet the Press. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, says "nothing inappropriate happened," but Republicans are suggesting the administration tried to "bribe" Sestak and are demanding details. Is this a legitimate scandal? (Watch Joe Sestak dodge questions about the alleged White House offer.)

Unless Sestak's lying, this smells like bribery:  Either Sestak is "fibbing," says Jennifer Rubin in Commentary, or "there was some kind of offer, which might be illegal but is — in any case — the epitome of Washington insiderness and backroom deals, which the voters have come to loathe." Either way, the Democrats need to come clean and say what happened."Sestak's stall not working"

What a phony scandal: "This is ridiculous," says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. "Any meaningful political scandal" requires breaking the law, breaking some established Washington custom, or, at the very least, telling a lie. This "pseudo-scandal" has none of the above, and it's sheer madness that not only right-wing crackpots but even The New York Times is joining in the "fulminations.""The Sestak pseudo-scandal"

Illegal or not, the White House should come clean: "Even if the conversations were perfectly legal," say the editors of The Washington Post, it's odd that the Obama administration is refusing "to even discuss what was discussed." The trust-us-and-go-away line "is unacceptable from any administration; it is especially hypocritical coming from this one," which has billed itself as "the most transparent in history.""Lack of sunlight over Mr. Sestak's claims"

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