Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Sestak Thing

Obama isn't taking many media questions these days. Some speculated a reason for his silence yesterday might have been because the man who claimed he was bribed by the administration not to run against Arlen Specter had won.

According to those same speculators, Obama called with his congratulations after the victory, pledging his full support. Weird--weren't they already on the same team?

So, who is this Joe Sestak? The Times explores:
Now Mr. Sestak — despite an initially rambling and occasionally bewildering speaking style — appears to be one of the Democrats’ best hopes for keeping control of the Senate. How a relatively obscure member of Congress, with a consistently liberal voting record, made it this far says a great deal about who he is.
Tom Maguire questions the Times on the length of that liberal voting record, which only goes back to 2006, by asking whether it included his time commanding the George Washington Carrier Group off the coast of Afghanistan (sic). True enough, Sestak is a former Navy Vice-Admiral (to be nitpicky, the Times and his own web site call him an Admiral) and the upstart who took Congressman Curt Weldon's 30 year entrenched House seat in 2006.

The Gray Lady goes on to detail some enemies he made in the Navy, which Specter tried to "Swift Boat" him with in campaign commercials leading to backlash. Of course anyone trying to make effective change in any organization is going to make enemies--but so do zealots trying to make change for the sake of change, or bad changes, so it's hard to tell what happened based on the Times story. The only evidence was his quick demotion and departure from the Navy as soon as Admiral Mullen took over in 2005, which could have been a personality conflict from past interactions.

Out of the blue (literally) he entered politics in 2006. Writer Jack Cashill had some interesting bits on Sestak's initial backers at the time:
Looking about for a new career, Sestak decided, improbably enough, on Congress. The nostalgic admiral eyed not the Virginia district in which he lived, but the Pennsylvania district in which he had last lived as a boy. More daunting still, he would be facing off against popular 10-term maverick Republican, Curt Weldon.

Despite the odds, the political novice proved master rainmaker----it must have helped to leave the Navy under a cloud--as he somehow managed to muster a $3 million war chest within months. Former National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, pitched in big time. Now a lobbyist—quelle surprise--Berger hosted a serious fundraiser for the admiral in Washington and lent the Sestak campaign his firm’s Director of Communications to serve as the official campaign spokesman.
He follows today with a reminder post:
Another interesting contribution came in from Mary O. McCarthy, recently dismissed from the CIA, reportedly for failing a polygraph on leaked classified information in regards to CIA prisons overseas. As it happened, a timely leak shortly before the 2006 election would ultimately do Weldon in.
Cashill continues:
Their reasons for supporting Sestak were transparent even to the local media. “A Sestak victory,” observed suburban Philadelphia’s Delco Times early in the campaign, “would muzzle a Republican congressman who blames Clinton for doing irreparable harm to America’s national security during the 1990s.”
Still, it's not entirely improbable that a man of his resume might want to enter politics. And some may dismiss Cashill due to his conspiratorial bent, but he was one of the few digging around in 2006. To be fair, some questioned whether Weldon had perhaps gone too far in his quest for the defense of America, including his passionate interest in Operation Able Danger and warnings about Iran and those who provided intelligence thereof.

In contrast, Sestak's views on Iran are more moderate and in line with liberal orthodoxy; this Jewish PAC endorsed him due to his two-state stance and diplomatic posture regarding Tehran:
Crucially, Congressman Sestak believes that the United States needs to pursue a “diplomatic surge” with Iran. He argues that Iran is strongly disinterested in having a chaotic Iraq located next-door and that as such, an American withdrawal can be used to create diplomatic leverage with Iran.
Anyway, a 2006 FBI probe into Weldon's possible shady dealings with his lobbyist daughter came at just the right moment for Sestak, who was behind in polls with only a month or so to go:
“It is a longstanding practice of the FBI to refrain from engaging in any dramatic action related to political corruption in the weeks immediately preceding an election,” notes Martin correctly, “out of concern that this would be regarded as an effort to interfere with the electoral process.”
Quotes Cashill of a story on the World Socialist Website, of all places. Ironically, Sestak himself had to return a pittance of money given by illegal alien criminal Norman Hsu, a former friend of Hillary, but there were no allegations of wrongdoing. Still, it was another dot connected to the Clintonistas.

In the end Weldon lost but was never indicted (sort of like Ted Stevens) and here we are today with another improbable Sestak victory after a sensational story of possible wrongdoing that will likely never be confirmed. But you know this had to hurt:
“That ad said there’s a real alternative to Arlen Specter and he’s not a kook,” Mr. Oxman said.
And who wants to be seen backing a kook? No wonder the cone of silence is down. But maybe the press is frustrating themselves with the wrong president. Sestak's biggest backers seem to be friends of Bill, and Bill is always ready to jawbone about current events. Maybe they could ask him why Sestak's win was "a victory for the people over the establishment" based on some of his initial establishment backers, who were there from the beginning.

THIS... 5/21/10

Is incredible stonewalling..

How long will it be before a Sam Donaldson figure emerges from this pack?

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