Todd: Obama Offering Sestak Job No Different Than Cheney Offering Campaign Backing To Pawlenty

UPDATE: Later in today's show, a clip [displayed after the jump] was played of an interview from months ago in which Scarborough unequivocally put it to Sestak that he had been offered the Secretary of the Navy position, and Sestak seems to confirm it. So much so that after watching the clip, today's guest Jeffrey Sachs, an ardent Obama fan, had to laughingly admit that, yes, Sestak had been offered the Navy job

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Does Chuck Todd understand the difference between offering, in return for a candidate's agreement to drop out of a race, a big federal job with its salary and perks, versus offering to support someone's possible future political campaign?  Apparently not.  For the NBC Political Director and chief White House correspondent this morning equated the Obama admin's apparent offer of a top job to Joe Sestak with Dick Cheney's reported offer to support Tim Pawlenty in a subsequent gubernatorial run if he would get out of a Senate primary against Norm Coleman. H/t reader Ray R.

Let's make this clear: offering a federal job which is within the offerer's power of appointment, in order to influence someone is a crime.  Offering political support in a possible future race is neither illegal nor wrong: it is simply politics.  But Todd shockingly equated the two during the course of a spirited conversation with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.

Viewers are encouraged to watch the extended clip, but here's the the crucial segment:

CHUCK TODD: A White House trying to get somebody, to see if somebody wants to get out of a race because they want a job or somebody threatening to simply because they want to run is not new to American politics. It's as old as the Republic itself. What seems obviously though this year is different is there's this feeling that any time you make a deal, it's going to be the worst thing in the world.  

Right.  The MSM has been so unfairly tough on Pres. Obama compared to its kid-glove treatment of Republican presidents.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But Chuck, let me stop you there. Let me ask you: can you give me a parallel time where there was as naked a quid pro quo as Joe Sestak claims --

TODD: -- Sure.

SCARBOROUGH: Let me finish.  Which is you can be in charge of the United States Navy --

TODD: --- Well, first of all --

SCARBOROUGH: Let me finish. Where lives of American men and women are on the line, if you will get out of the race against Arlen Specter?  Where there was that naked a quid pro quo, as claimed by Joe Sestak.

After questioning whether there was evidence that the specific job Sestak was offered was that of Sec. of the Navy, Todd continued.

TODD: Look I can tell you what I remember in 2002 very vividly: Dick Cheney, reports, and the White House fully admitted this, Dick Cheney calls up Tim Pawlenty, little-known conservative Republican running for the US Senate against Paul Wellstone, the White House wanted Norm Coleman.  Dick Cheney says you get out and run for Governor and we'll come in there and we're going to do this work for you, and we'll do this for you and we'll do that for you --

SCARBOROUGH: But that's different!

TODD: But I'm just saying.

SCARBOROUGH: That's completely different, though. That is completely different: saying I'm going to support you in a campaign--maybe you win maybe you lose, than the President saying I will let you be in charge of an armed service if you will get out of the way of a guy that we got to switch political parties and promised to clear the primary field.

 

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.