Clinton: 'Sestak rejected plumber job'
by Dawn Keyes
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former President Clinton yesterday appeared on "Beat the Mess" to answer questions about his attempt to interfere in the Democrat senatorial primary race in Pennsylvania. Clinton had been accused of offering former admiral Joe Sestak the job of Secretary of the Navy in return for pulling out of the race to allow former Republican Arlen Specter to run in the general election in November.
"I tried my very best to get Joe to quit running against the president's good buddy Arlen," Clinton said, "but I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I DID NOT have unethical relations with that man, Mr. Sestak. I never bribed anybody with a job offer, not a single time, never. These allegations are false, and I need to go back to work for the American people.
"All I did was offer Mr. Sestak an unpaid, volunteer, low-level job. I was convinced he would take such a position after wasting the last six months of his life and several million dollars that were contributed by wealthy Democrat donors on the mere hope of getting a job that could serve the president. I think that both he and I would like to see campaign funds conserved for when we really need them when Hillary runs for President in 2012.
"I figured my best bet to get Joe out of the way was to offer him a sure-fire job that would allow him to serve the president in a most intimate way.
"Surprisingly, Mr. Sestak did not seem interested in the first job I offered, which was assistant White House cook. He said he had never worn a hair net in his life and wasn't about to start.
"So I upped the ante a bit and offered him the job of backup valet parker at the White House. He said he would be unable physically to do that job. Evidently he spent so much time on the high seas that he tends to get car sick on shore.
"The next job I offered was a temporary, part-time job but by far the highest position in Washington, D.C. However, Joe is prone to acrophobia, and so he turned down the job of chief polisher of the aluminum cap of the Washington Monument.
"So I asked Joe if he would take a job where he could be over 300,000 people if his feet were on solid ground, and he said he would until he found out the position was assistant groundskeeper at Arlington National Cemetery.
"That's when I offered him the most coveted position that President Obama had authorized me to give, which was an apprentice White House plumber. He seemed excited about the job and asked for 12 hours to think it over. Unfortunately, he declined after discovering that his job title easily could be confused with the most famous White House plumbers, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Libby.
"Still his rejection surprised me because he would have had the opportunity to make sure the president's toilets flush properly and the drain pipes are clear of hair and cigarette butts. Frankly, I'm still baffled as to why he would want to be one of 100 senators when there are only two apprentice White House plumbers, a much more coveted position. Plus he would have been able to help clean up messes instead of creating them."
Sestak, reached on his vacation at Wally World in Grapefruit Grove, Florida, said he didn't give President Clinton the real reasons for his rejections.
"I really want to be a senator," he said. "Plus I think I have a better chance of beating the Republican in November than Arlen Specter. And I need the money and the retirement benefits of the job of Senator.
"A six-year term as Senator pays more than a million dollars plus benefits that can be worth more than the salary. The pension is amazing because Senators don't have to pay into Social Security. I would expect to make $60,000 a year minimum for the rest of my life and probably a great deal more than that.
"So why would I want to work as an assistant plumber for nothing? Doesn't make sense to me.
"But I don't want to talk about this anymore. The good citizens of Pennsylvania don't care if I was offered a job in return for pulling out of the race. They wouldn't care if President Clinton paid me a million dollars not to run. What the people of Pennsylvania want is a Senator who doesn't support anything the president does. And I think I'm that guy.
"I didn't want to talk about this in the first place. It was a simple slip of the tongue when I was trying to let voters know that I'm not a guy who can be bought out with an unpaid job. I wanted them to know how honorable and above board I am.
"Unlike other Democrats who have run as conservatives, I promise that I won't change when I'm elected. I'll fight tax increases, pork barrel spending, bailing out the banks, privatizing our corporations, surrendering to the Taliban and everything else that most Democrats want to do.
"I'll be a maverick. I will have more in common with Sarah Palin than President Obama, I'll tell you that."
Washington insiders said these kinds of offers are made all the time. At least two would-be Democrat senators mow the lawns at the White House, while six would-be congressmen accepted unpaid positions in the White House mailroom, where they stamp President Obama's signature on form letters to school children.
"This has been the most satisfying position of my entire life," said Marty Graw, who decided to become a third-string mailroom boy in return for dropping out of the Louisiana race against Congresswoman Robin M. Seeley, a strong supporter of President Obama. "I can just imagine those fifth and sixth-graders jumping for joy when they get a letter from the president. I feel like I'm ensuring the country will vote Democrat for generations to come."
Another mail room worker, Barb Dwyer, told her supporters in Texas that she was dropping out of the primary election for senator to take her unpaid job.
"I don't make any money," she said, "but I get paid in other ways. Sometimes the president will thank us over the intercom, and once he even waved toward the mailroom as he was rushing down the hall to meet with Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela."
Former congressional candidate Parker Carr of New Jersey said his job as assistant White House valet allows him to ride in automobiles that most Americans never get to see, let alone ride.
"A lot of the president's guests have Bentleys, Rolls Royces and Lamborghinis," he said. "In a couple of years I'm going to get to drive and park them all by myself, but for now as an assistant I'm just thrilled to be able to ride in these wonderful vehicles.
"Sure, I might have made more money as a congressman, but I would be stuck indoors all day, listening to boring talks. This job is much more satisfying. I feel as though I'm genuinely making a difference."
Former California congressional hopeful Duane Pipe, who gave up a challenge against current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take a job as assistant White House plumber said he is thankful for the skills he has learned on the job.
"When I return to the private sector,' he said, "I'll save enough on plumbing bills to take my wife out to the movies at least once a month. She fully supported my change in focus to help out the president."
Quote of the Day
“Don't buy a single vote more than necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide.” — Joseph P. Kennedy