With today's release of statements by the White House Counsel and Congressman Joe Sestak regarding the no-pay for no-play Pennsylvania Senate contest, Sestakgate is emerging as a non-scandal. After all, in 1982 President Ronald Reagan offered Senator S.I. Hayakawa a job if he dropped out of the California GOP primary. And as CREW director Melanie Sloan suggested, there's no "there" here because the position in question was unpaid. But for Republican Darrell Issa, the imbroglio is very personal. After all, no one promised Arnold Schwarzeneggar a job to prevent the Terminator from taking the California Governor's office Issa coveted.
In 2003, the former car thief turned car alarm magnate Issa led the effort to recall California Governor Gray Davis. (Davis was undone by the energy crisis which crippled the Golden State thanks in large part to market manipulation by Enron.) But part two of the Issa plan - to capture the Governor's office himself - abruptly ran aground when Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to get in the race.
On August 7, 2003, Issa shocked supporters and announced he would not continue his candidacy, comically claiming:
"It had nothing to do with Schwarzenegger's decision."
Issa at times wept uncontrollably as he made his premature withdrawal. His teary laments of "God Almighty" may have had something to do with the $1 million he invested to unseat Davis. This video shows Issa's pathetic performance as he concluded his gubernatorial ambitions had been terminated. The water works start around the 7:30 mark above.)
In the film, A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks proclaims, "there's no crying in baseball." If that same standard applied to American politics, Darrell Issa's career would have ended long ago. Instead, Issa has thrived and has emerged as the President Obama's grand inquisitor regarding the Sestak affair.
Last week, Congressman Issa threatened to file an ethics complaint against Sestak over the affair. And in response to the revelations this morning, Issa was undeterred by the seeming lack of lawlessness involved:
"The White House has admitted today to coordinating an arrangement that would represent an illegal quid-pro-quo as federal law prohibits directly or indirectly offering any position or appointment, paid or unpaid, in exchange for favors connected with an election."
For observers of all stripes, questions regarding the dust-up abound. Why, for example, did the Obama White House wait to address the smoke-but-no-fire surrounding Sestak? Will Republicans nevertheless process with an impeachment effort against President Obama?
And one other: will Darrell Issa cry again?