BREAKING: White House Used Bill Clinton As Intermediary To Offer Stestak Bribe

Another Obama Friday news dump.  They are calling it an “unpaid, advisory position” which can only mean one thing – they know they are up the creek and are choosing their words very carefully.  And who better than Bill “It depends what the definition of is, is” Clinton to bite his lip for the cameras and deny any wrongdoing.

President Obama’s chief of staff used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary to see if Representative Joe Sestak would drop out of a Senate primary if given a prominent, but unpaid, advisory position, people briefed on the matter said Friday.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, asked Mr. Clinton to explore the possibilities last summer, according to the briefed individuals, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the politically charged situation. Mr. Sestak said no and went on to win last week’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Senator Arlen Specter.

The White House did not offer Mr. Sestak a full-time paid position because Mr. Emanuel wanted him to stay in the House rather than risk losing his seat. Among the positions explored by the White House was an appointment to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, which provides independent oversight and advice the president. But White House officials discovered it would not work because Mr. Sestak could not serve on the board while still serving in Congress.

Mr. Sestak first mentioned publicly in February that he had been offered a job but provided no details, and the White House for three months has refused to discuss it, generating intense criticism from Republicans who accused it of trying to bribe a congressman and deep consternation among Democrats who called on the administration to answer questions.

Mr. Obama promised on Thursday to release an account of the matter, which White House lawyers have been drafting in recent days in consultation with Mr. Sestak’s brother, Richard, who runs his campaign. The White House plans to release its statement later on Friday. Until now, the White House has said publicly only that whatever conversations took place with Mr. Sestak were not inappropriate.

I did not offer that job to that man, Mr. Sestak…..

Axelrod: I don’t give a flying f*ck if people think I have a man crush on Obama

As the White House Turns continues in the press today.  Instead of leaking to Dana Milbank and others at the Washington Post like Rahmbo and his allies, Axelrod and his sister (?!?) attempt to combat his suck factor on the record to the New York Times

“Typical Washington junk we have to deal with,” Mr. Axelrod said in an interview. The president is deft at blocking out such noise, he added, suddenly brightening. “I love the guy,” he said, and in the space of five minutes, repeated the sentiment twice.

Critics, pointing to the administration’s stalled legislative agenda, falling poll numbers and muddled messaging, suggest that kind of devotion is part of the problem at the White House. Recent news reports have cast the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as the administration’s chief pragmatist, and Mr. Axelrod, by implication, as something of a swooning loyalist. “I’ve heard him be called a ‘Moonie,’ ” dismissed Mr. Axelrod’s close friend, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. Or as the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, joked, “the guy who walks in front of the president with rose petals.”

Still, it is a charge that infuriates Mr. Axelrod, the president’s closest aide, longest-serving adviser and political alter ego. “I guess I have been castigated for believing too deeply in the president,” he said, lapsing into the sarcasm he tends to deploy when playing defense.


In an interview in his office, Mr. Axelrod was often defiant, saying he did not give a “flying” expletive “about what the peanut gallery thinks” and did not live for the approval “of the political community.” He denounced the “rampant lack of responsibility” of people in Washington who refuse to solve problems, and cited the difficulty of trying to communicate through what he calls “the dirty filter” of a city suffused with the “every day is Election Day sort of mentality.”

When asked how he would assess his performance, Mr. Axelrod shrugged. “I’m not going to judge myself on that score,” he said. But then he shot back: “Have I succeeded in reversing a 30-year trend of skepticism and cynicism about government? I confess that I have not. Maybe next year.”

Or maybe not.  Reconciliation, anyone?

Read on.  It’s not a puff piece and my guess is Axelrod can’t be happy with final product which did not achieve its desired effect. 

Rahm – 3, Axelrod-0

Could Holder Be The Next Victim Of Barry’s Bus?

One can only HOPE.

Holder Under the Bus?

Aside from the sloppy legal work by Holder (including citing cases that have been since overturned by the Supreme Court), it is curious to see that the Obami are now retreating to the defense that “Bush did the same thing” (ignoring the instances in which Bush designated terrorists as enemy combatants). None of this seems to be working to shore up support for the criminal-justice model, which the Obami have insisted on employing, in part because the legal arguments are weak (e.g., disregarding the military-commission system, now in place to handle these cases) and in part because neither the public nor members of Obama’s own party think it makes sense to try KSM in a civilian court, Mirandize a terrorist, or ship Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Joining the chorus of other mainstream critics of the Obama approach, Stuart Taylor calls Holder’s decisions to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber and to try KSM in a civilian court “two glaring mistakes” that require a serious course correction by Obama in his anti-terrorism policies.

In a piece in the New Yorker, which aptly describes the gathering storm of opposition, Holder doubles-down (”What we did is totally consistent with what has happened in every similar case”) and lashes out at former Vice President Dick Cheney (”On some level, and I’m not sure why, he lacks confidence in the American system of justice”). But Holder seems to be on thin ice and the White House might now view him as a liability. The New Yorker quotes a source close to the White House:

“The White House doesn’t trust his judgment, and doesn’t think he’s mindful enough of all the things he should be,” such as protecting the President from political fallout. “They think he wants to protect his own image, and to make himself untouchable politically, the way Reno did, by doing the righteous thing.”

Even more ominous for Holder: Rahm Emanuel is making it clear to all those concerned that he disagreed with a string of highly controversial and politically disastrous decisions by Holder. We learn: “Emanuel adamantly opposed a number of Holder’s decisions, including one that widened the scope of a special counsel who had begun investigating the C.I.A.’s interrogation program. Bush had appointed the special counsel, John Durham, to assess whether the C.I.A. had obstructed justice when it destroyed videotapes documenting waterboarding sessions.” And then there is the KSM trial:

At the White House, Emanuel, who is not a lawyer, opposed Holder’s position on the 9/11 cases. He argued that the Administration needed the support of key Republicans to help close Guantánamo, and that a fight over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could alienate them. “There was a lot of drama,” the informed source said. . . .  “Rahm felt very, very strongly that it was a mistake to prosecute the 9/11 people in the federal courts, and that it was picking an unnecessary fight with the military-commission people,” the informed source said. “Rahm had a good relationship with [Sen. Lindsay] Graham, and believed Graham when he said that if you don’t prosecute these people in military commissions I won’t support the closing of Guantánamo. . . . Rahm said, ‘If we don’t have Graham, we can’t close Guantánamo, and it’s on Eric!’ ”

When you lose Rahm, you’re as good as gone.  If Holder does join the ranks of other bus victims, imagine the confirmation hearings for his replacement? 


Who’s Angry Now?

Meet the new Angry – Democrats on the Hill.  And they are angry with each other, no less.

Rahm piled on:

McGurn: The Post-Gracious President

William McGurn explores Bammy’s incessant Bush Bashing and finger-pointing in a WSJ op/ed today.

Nine months after Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, his most adamant critics must concede he’s delivered on “change.” And we see it in our first post-gracious presidency.  obama-angry1

The most visible manifestations of the new ungraciousness are the repeated digs the president and his senior staffers continue to make against George W. Bush. Recently, the administration has given us two fresh examples. The first is about Afghanistan, the other about the economy.

On Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff went on CNN’s “State of the Union” earlier this month to discuss the presidential decision on Afghanistan that everyone is waiting for. “It’s clear that basically we had a war for eight years that was going on, that’s adrift,” said Rahm Emanuel. “That we’re beginning at scratch, and just from the starting point, after eight years.” Translation: If we screw up Afghanistan, blame Mr. Bush.

The other came from Mr. Obama himself, speaking at various Democratic fund-raisers last week. “I don’t mind cleaning up the mess that some other folks made,” the president said. “That’s what I signed up to do. But while I’m there mopping the floor, I don’t want somebody standing there saying, ‘You’re not mopping fast enough.'”

This is a frequent Obama complaint. The logic is clear if curious: While it’s OK to blame Mr. Bush for spending too much, it’s not OK to point out that Mr. Obama is already well on track to spend much more.

Far from one-off asides, Mr. Obama’s jabs at his predecessor have been a common feature of his speeches, fund-raisers and the like. They seem especially to pop up whenever Mr. Obama discovers some decision he must make is not as easy as he’d thought. And they date back to the first moments of his presidency.

After a perfunctory thank you to Mr. Bush, a newly sworn-in President Obama declared that Americans had gathered for his inaugural “because we have chosen hope over fear,” that his administration would “restore science to its rightful place,” and that he would never allow America to “give [our ideals] up for expedience’s sake.” In other words, President Bush had chosen fear over hope, was being “expedient” rather than defending the nation, and had chosen religious fundamentalism over science when making decisions in areas such as embryonic stem-cell research.

I recommend a full read.

Obamacare Sliding Off The Rails?

House Energy and Commerce health care markup scrapped.

(Scroll down for updates)

The House Energy and Commerce health care markup planned for this afternoon has been canceled, with the panel’s Democrats being summoned to the White House as President Barack Obama hopes to break its logjam.

Seven Blue Dog Democrats on the panel have threatened to block the legislation unless major changes are made that cut costs overall and also direct more funding to rural areas. The markup is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Is Obama’s Consigliare, Rahm “Fingers” Emanuel, going to make them an offer they can’t refuse?  Perhaps he’ll deliver a fish wrapped in newspaper to send a message to those who aren’t receptive.

UPDATE #1: Steny Hoyer:  Health Care Vote Before Recess Unclear

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is confirming what leadership aides have been signaling: that the House may not vote on a health care package before leaving town at the end of next week for a monthlong August break.

“I’ll make that decision next week. I’m not going to make it now,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly roundtable.

Update #2: Governors send strongly worded letter to Congress

The nation’s governors have sent a letter to Congress urging them not to impose “unfunded federal mandates and reforms that simply shift costs to states” as they consider health care reform. A House proposal would provide permanent funding for Medicaid expansions, which the governors support.

Writing on behalf of the National Governors Association, chairman Jim Douglas (R) of Vermont says:

Any unfunded expansions would be particularly troubling given that states face budget shortfalls of over $200 billion over the next three years. This gap persists even after the Recovery Act’s temporary increases in the federal share of Medicaid, which was essential for avoiding dramatic cuts to critical state services and was greatly appreciated by governors.

Governors welcome the opportunity to share and expand upon the innovative reforms we have instituted in our states to expand coverage, reduce cost and improve the quality of health care. These reforms should inform congressional efforts and must be preserved and encouraged as part of any national reform.

We appreciate your willingness to work with us to pursue financing options that are sustainable at both the federal and state levels.

White House releases staff salaries, TOTUS not on list

As Billy Ray Valentine once said:   “We are paying some of our employees an awful lot of money.”

Twenty-eight-year-old speechwriter Jon Favreau, for example, rakes in the top salary, $172,000: just as much as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor’s David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones.

The President’s ever-present “body man” Reggie Love scores a paycheck of $102,000. Social Secretary Desiree Rogers makes $113,000.

The boy-wonder speech writer makes the same amount as the National Security Advisor.  What’s up with that?