When Joe Sestak defeated Arlen Specter to secure the Democratic nomination for Senator of Pennsylvania, you could almost feel the White House cringe. Although it's too early to say that Sestak's loose lips in a February media interview with Larry Kane could sink the Obama administration's ship, his primary win almost certainly has the White House scrambling for sandbags to reinforce the stonewall.
Sestak clammed up in that interview after admitting that someone in the administration offered him a job in July to drop out of the primary -- presumably, that job was Secretary of the Navy. The problem is that the claim implicates the administration in the commission of at least one felony and Sestak could be implicating himself in the misprision of a felony as long as he remains silent about what job was offered and who offered it.
Republican candidate Pat Toomey is now running against Sestak and told KDKA radio's Mike Pintek on May 19th that he will run his campaign like he's twenty points down in what is, on paper a close race. If he means that, perhaps he should shine the spotlight on this scandal now that he is on a national stage.
On its face, a strategy that involves calling national media attention to the scandal known as 'Jobsgate' might seem like Toomey would be going negative, slinging mud at his opponent over a matter not relevant to the campaign. That is a misguided and shortsighted view. With the national stage Toomey now has, the opportunity to expose a scandal of gigantic proportions, reaching all the way to what a growing percentage of Americans now view as the most corrupt presidential administration in this nation's history, is now his as well.
As a one-time congressman seeking higher office in the Senate, conventional wisdom - in addition to his handlers - is likely telling Toomey to play it safe by riding the wave of Tea Party conservatism which will help him defeat Sestak in the arena of ideas while capitalizing on the momentum that is expected to benefit conservative Republicans in November.
This scandal is much bigger than Toomey's aspirations. It's also much bigger than taking down Sestak before the election. The irony is that what Toomey likely perceives as going negative may just be the best thing he could possibly do for his country. With the national exposure that accompanies this campaign coupled with Sestak's self-inflicted wound, Toomey has the opportunity to achieve greatness by putting his political aspirations in the back seat; that's irony.
Sestak has also been questioned - surprisingly - by CNN's Rick Sanchez about the alleged White House job offer. His response was as incoherent as the one he gave Pintek. Sestak is on his heels when this scandal is front and center. By extension, so is this presidential administration. Conservatives have long been accused of not having the stomach to deliver knockout blows. Not only is Sestak vulnerable but so is the White House.
If Toomey would embrace a conservative platform while shunning a conservative strategy, he would actually be doing more than anyone has been able to do to this point - penetrate one of several White House stonewalls.
When Moe Howard once shouted, "Shut up and start talkin'," those watching both knew what he meant and understood the contradiction. That's what made it funny. The command distinguishes between double talk and straight talk. It's time to start talkin' Toomey.
See also: The Senator from Sandy Berger
Ben Barrack is a talk show host on KTEM 1400 in Texas and maintains a website at www.benbarrack.com