Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2010

MASSA ENDS BRIEF POLITICAL CAREER ON A SOUR NOTE.... It's been sad to watch freshmen Rep. Eric Massa's (D-N.Y.) struggles of late. Just six days ago, Massa announced he would retire due to serious health concerns. He acknowledged rumors about a pending ethics investigation, but angrily denied the allegations.

A day later, his denials softened a bit, and he conceded he may have used inappropriate language with his staff.

Two days after announcing his retirement, Massa changed his story a little more, announcing he would resign in order to avoid the looming ethics investigation. In a statement, Massa accepted responsibility for his missteps, and said he was stepping down "with a profound sense of failure." He said the ethics issue is "my fault and mine alone.... My difficulties are of my own making."

Over the weekend, Massa changed his story once again, announcing that his difficulties were not of his own making, but were instead the result of a conspiracy orchestrated by Democratic leaders on the Hill and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Massa now believes his position on health care reform -- he voted against it in November because it wasn't single-payer -- prompted his party to go after him.

"Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill," he said, "and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill, and now they've gotten rid of me and it will pass. You connect the dots."

"The future of the Democratic Party rests on passing this health care bill," he added. "They can get anyone to say anything about me concerning anything at all, and in fact they did."

Massa's conspiracy theory is not only at odds with his own remarks from last week, they're also belied by the record. The ethics inquiry was initiated in early February. In order for the conspiracy theory to be true, Democratic leaders would have needed to know at the time that a Massa vacancy would improve the arithmetic on the final health care vote. It's far-fetched, to put it mildly.

We're also starting to get a better sense of what, exactly, his "salty" language constituted. Massa believes the ethics investigation stems from a comment he made to aide at a New Year's Eve wedding party, when he apparently told a male staffer that "what I really ought to be doing is fracking you." (Whether this is actually the basis for the investigation is unclear.) He also acknowledged an incident from his Navy years when he walked in on a male roommate masturbating, and offered to "help with that."

Regardless, after initially taking responsibility for his own "difficulties," Massa has now decided that his missteps are his party's fault, and he's lashing out wildly in the hopes of punishing his perceived Democratic enemies. That will apparently include Massa joining Fox News' Glenn Beck on the air today, for a full-hour anti-Democratic, anti-reform tirade.

It's an almost tragic ending to what was once a promising career. The right-wing will no doubt embrace him as some kind of hero -- a "victim" of Democratic heavy-handedness -- but in truth, it sounds like Massa is going through a very difficult personal time right now, and he's dealing with the issues in a destructive and unhealthy way. That's not heroism; that's just sad.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Next up, Jane Hamsher on Bill O'Reilly and Howard Dean on Glenn Beck proclaiming what an awful bill this is and that they stand shoulder to shoulder with republicans trying to kill it.

Posted by: homerhk on March 9, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

This guy's got issues. A year's subscription, in fact.

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Massa's in the cold, cold ground.

Posted by: anomaly on March 9, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

but in truth, it sounds like Massa is going through a very difficult personal time right now, and he's dealing with the issues in a destructive and unhealthy way.

And not that I would expect anything other, but it is pretty sick of the wingnuts to exploit someone who is in failing health and under extraordinary stress for their partisan gains.

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 9, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this guy resigning? If he's got no problems then why is he resigning. You can't make somebody quit the congress just because you don't like the way they vote on legislation.
He's obviously a complete whackaloon.

Posted by: Gandalf on March 9, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

I predict that Massa's sudden courtship by Beck and Limbaugh will come back to bite them on the ass.

- as often has happened, when the Reichwing seizes on an issue before fact checking the story.

Posted by: DAY on March 9, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

anomaly, heh.

Posted by: shortstop on March 9, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

I'm also confused as to why the right is embracing Massa. He can't even keep his own story straight and his story comes across as a closet case. I guess the right is looking for a new Zell Miller but it's hard to see how a Congressman who served one year and resigned under scandal will fit this bill for them.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on March 9, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Considering the rapidity with which Massa switches gears, perhaps, he can drop the "c" from frack and just call Beck, "You miserable frakking idiot".

Posted by: berttheclock on March 9, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

his position on health care reform -- he voted against it in November because it wasn't single-payer

I'm missing something. He brags on his website that the National Journal called him one of the most centrist Dems. And now he says he voted against health care because it wasn't socialist enough?

Posted by: Danp on March 9, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

it sounds like Massa is going through a very difficult personal time right now, and he's dealing with the issues in a destructive and unhealthy way.
Cripes, this sounds like something an assistant principal would say to the parents of an eight-year-old who turned a frog loose in class. If Massa's nuts, he's nuts, if he's useless he's useless, but don't patronize the sorry bastard like this.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on March 9, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like somebody is pushing a large clump of sweaty cash into Mr. Massa's hands in return for a 'principled stand' against Dems via a national televised audience.

Posted by: terraformer on March 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't "fracking" some kind of industrial chemical process? It doesn't sound like something you'd want to do for fun.

Posted by: Virginia on March 9, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

The right-wing will no doubt embrace him as some kind of hero -- a "victim" of Democratic heavy-handedness...

I doubt republicans are going to jump on the gay Democratic sexual harasser wagon anytime soon, much less hold him up as a hero.

Posted by: ScottW on March 9, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Great, Congress loses another Battlestar Galactica fan.

Posted by: doubtful on March 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Our local morning news anchors, not usually noted for their resistance to story lines which work against the Democrats, were openly mocking Massa's "they forced me out because they don't like my vote" story this morning

Posted by: Lis on March 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

As the word, also, means long tail coat in several languages, perhaps Massa could, either, buy one to wear or rent one to attend certain "art houses" in his district.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop wrote:

This guy's got issues. A year's subscription, in fact.

I'm totally stealing that line.

Posted by: Snarky Bastard on March 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Of course this guy is going to be treated like a hero by the right. By their standards, when a member of your party in Congress faces a scandal or ethics investigation, you pretend like it doesn't matter and push on with business/grifting as usual.

Posted by: jonas on March 9, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Doubtful, it's okay as long as they keep the Joss Whedon fans.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on March 9, 2010 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

He also acknowledged an incident from his Navy years when he walked in on a male roommate masturbating, and offered to "help with that."

He just bungled the punch line. What he meant to say was: "Looks like you really need a hand!"

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on March 9, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK
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