That’s not an idea I can take credit for. That one belongs to Jeffrey Kuhner at the Washington Times, who had an airstrike of a column on the Obama administration about this issue today.
Kuhner’s piece opens by saying that Wright, the hard-left racist pastor in whose church Obama spent 20 years listening to poisonous rhetoric about the evils and injustices of white-dominated America, could very well be the cancerous tumor which kills his presidential corpus. And Wright’s accusation, made in Edward Klein’s new book The Amateur, that the Obama campaign attempted to buy the pastor’s silence between the time he entered the public’s conscience and Election Day 2008, would have been a violation of campaign laws sufficient to put the president behind bars, the way Kuhner frames it.
“Wrightgate could bring down the Obama presidency,” Kuhner says.
In particular, Mr. Wright alleges that Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close Obama friend, sent an email proposing $150,000 to muzzle the pastor; Mr. Wright says he refused. (The Obama administration recently awarded a $6 million grant to the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Urban Health Initiative. Who runs the initiative? You guessed it: Dr. Whitaker.) Then, Mr. Wright claims, Mr. Obama personally visited him, urging the pastor to remain silent and do nothing that would cripple the Obama candidacy.
This is why his allegations must be investigated. House Republicans should demand that Congress subpoena Mr. Wright and force him to testify under oath – especially about his claims that the Obama campaign offered $150,000 to buy him off. Congressional investigators need to subpoena Dr. Whitaker as well and track down his supposed emails in which the offer was made. If true, the Obama team violated campaign laws and maybe worse.
Mr. Wright’s charges are possibly the tip of the iceberg, exposing the vast corruption at the heart of the administration’s Chicago-style politics. Who else has been offered cash in exchange for complicity?
Kuhner has it exactly right. This is a matter perfectly suited for a congressional investigation – and in particular for Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. That committee is already deep into the Obama administration’s misdeeds on Fast and Furious and other fronts; this isn’t totally new ground for them. And Congress is the only available official body with whom there is any reason to believe a chance of avoiding a cover-up can be had.
Should that happen, the Democrats on Capitol Hill will howl. So what? What are they going to do, complain that the House GOP is playing politics instead of spending time passing a budget? That won’t stick – the House passed a budget months ago and just this week the Democrats in the Senate failed to pass five different attempts at one.
Politically, there isn’t much of a downside. The media might scream about politics, but if they do they’ll only be advertising that this allegation has been made in the first place. And since it’s juicy stuff, it’ll wear.
Not to mention that Eric Whitaker, who is Obama’s buddy, might have to explain under oath how, as a bigwig atop the food chain at the University of Chicago Medical Center, the hospital ended up paying Michelle Obama some $316,000 a year for a job that they did away with after she left. Yes, you read that right. He might also talk about how that was around the time the hospital was looking for congressional earmark money for a new pavilion (Michelle’s husband was a U.S. Senator at the time), and didn’t get it – which was around when her salary started getting cut. She said, of course, that she was cutting her hours after Obama started his run for president, but again, she wasn’t replaced.
Nobody really pushed the crony angle against Obama four years ago. Given the sketchy way his administration has operated with respect to the Solyndras of the world, the General Electrics of the world and the Warren Buffetts of the world, there’s an angle to be exploited.
But Congress needs to do this. The Romney campaign doesn’t want any part of the Wright business, and they’re right not to. Why get your hands dirty with it? What you want to see if you’re Romney is for the story to grow legs on its own after you’ve already said you’re not going to play in that sandbox – if it’s Congress keeping it alive and the Obama camp screeching that Romney’s behind it after he’s already said he has nothing to do with it, Romney has himself positioned exactly where he wants to be.
Certainly the conservative blogosphere will play with the story. And Fox News is giving it lots of airtime – Sean Hannity has had Klein on two nights in a row to talk about it, making for fascinating TV. It will get onto the surface for more than one news cycle regardless of what official investigations are done on it.
But if Congress goes to hearings, it will break big. And Congress owes it to Obama – and to the American people – to smoke out what can be smoked out with it.