President Obama’s political hedge fund has placed bets in both directions regarding Pennsylvania’s primary race today. The race is neck and neck, but Sestak is a point or two up. The political version of “calls” and “puts” has Obama “endorsing” Specter, but not taking time out of his busy schedule for a Pennsylvania visit. The best thing the president could manage yesterday was a Pennsylvania fly-over on Air Force One on his way to Youngstown, Ohio.
No one has yet asked Robert Gibbs if Obama was waving to Pennsylvania from the air or whether he was waving “buh-bye” to the 30 year Senator. Senator Specter was lured on to the Obama Health Care Steamroller by promises of support in today’s primary. Specter’s vote was much needed by Speaker Pelosi and the White House, because the magic number was 60. Without Specter, the House wouldn’t have been able to adopt and redress the Senate version of the health care bill-a process termed “reconciliation.”
Arlen Specter is widely regarded as a traitor among Republicans, particularly since his votes for most of the last 30 years have been along GOP party lines. Democrats don’t trust him a great deal for that reason, and independents have tired of Obama’s Chicago inspired politics. Obama believes that the ends justifies the means, obviously, and the “means” for the health care bill passage was to get a Republican to flip. The President may be having a good chuckle over Specter’s gullibility, but few are likely to sympathize with Specter. The chorus, from all sides, seems to be “caveat emptor” and if a Mr. Jones like Arlen Specter didn’t see it coming, well, too bad.
Mr. Obama is an equal opportunity opportunist, for that matter. While running for office in Chicago, he knocked off a black female politician by challenging the signatures on her nominating position. Obama also aced out former Black Panther Party member Bobby Rush, in a House race centered on Chicago’s South Side. Bobby Rush was the reigning superstar of Chicago’s South Side, but his campaign was derailed when his son was murdered. Obama nodded deferentially to Rush’s misfortune and pressed on with his campaign to unseat Rush.
Cultivating moneyed and connected white liberals, and aided by Bill Clinton, the Obama campaign launched a political narrative that played outside the narrow Chicago community scene. According to a 2007 New York Times article about the 2000 race, Obama played off white fears of a former “black militant” versus a depiction of himself as the quiet, thoughtful, and temperate Harvard professor of constitutional law. Obama’s method of deposal of Bobby Rush didn’t play well in Chicago, though, and that’s one of the reasons Obama had to cement his bonds with Reverend Wright’s South Side church.
This history is not unknown by the Sestak campaign, though it has been understandably underplayed-at least until after the election. Philadelphia veteran reporter Larry Kane believes that the job offer Sestak received from the White House to get him to drop out of the Senate race was that of Secretary of the Navy. So far, Sestak’s only confirmed that there was a job offer from the White House, unwilling to describe whatever happened in detail. Sestak’s in a precarious position, but so is the White House, since California House Reform Committee Darrell Issa has called for an investigation of the job offer, a potential felony under current federal election law.