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What's up with Massa?

Once upon a time, I used to advise clients in all manner of trouble on how to minimize the damage to their reputations or how to get in front of bad news by wresting control of the narrative away from their would-be persecutors. Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) is pursuing the latter path to odd effect. The more he talks, the more implausible his conspiracy theory sounds. The more he talks, the more I wonder, what's up with Massa and men?

On Friday, Massa announced he would not seek reelection due to health. All the while, there were rumors that he was giving up his seat because of a sexual harassment allegation leveled by a male staffer. By Sunday, he was on WKPQ radio explaining the (I was just joshin') incident and declaring the implications a smear. But he also said that he was resigning altogether, effective 5:00 p.m. on Monday.

You can listen to the entire radio show here. And when you do, be prepared for some real palace intrigue. Not the back-stabby kind President Obama wants to put the kibosh on in the West Wing. Massa argues forcefully that the reason the ethics committee is investigating him is because of the Democratic leadership's push to pass health-care reform. With Massa out of the way, the bill is sailing to the president's desk. Who knew Massa wielded so much power?

"There's a reason that this has all happened, frankly one that I had not realized," he said on the radio on Sunday. "Mine is now the deciding vote on the health-care bill, 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'll pass. You connect the dots." There are some dots I'm connecting, but they have nothing to do with health care. They have to do with Massa's sexually charged stories about men.

In that Sunday radio show, he told the story that led to the allegation by the male staffer. The one where he said, "I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and I said, 'What I really ought to be doing is frakking you,' and then tossled the guy's hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where I shouldn't be there." Massa also had choice things to say about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, including an incident in the congressional gym. "I'm sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird and here comes Rahm Emanuel not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn't going to vote for the president's budget," Massa said. "Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?”

And then in answer to a critic who dredged up misconduct allegations from the 1980s, Massa shared this story about watch duty on a ship in the Persian Gulf during the first Iraq War. (skip up to 13:47 for this one.) The quarters were tight. "You literally can't move two people in that room without getting into each other's knickers," he said. One night he came back early only to find "[T]he other gentleman was busy remembering his spouse," he said euphemistically. "Instead of embarrassing him, I smacked him on the leg and said, 'If you need any help with that let me know.' and I went to bed." That proved a bit much for the roommate. "He was so hideously embarrassed he moved out of the stateroom because he couldn't take it. Ladies and gentlemen, we were at sea for four months."

Massa will go on Glenn Beck's show tomorrow night for the full hour. This might be asking too much, but I would love it if the Fox News weeper would pull the one-term congressman off the grassy knoll of conspiracy theories and ask him for proof of his allegations that his travails are the result of being targeted by the leadership. I would also like Beck to ask him point-blank about his conduct. Massa told a local reporter on Friday, “It’s not that I can fight or beat these allegations, I’m guilty.” If that's the case then why not go quietly? All this conspiracy talk strikes me as a distraction -- and not a very good one.

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 8, 2010; 6:48 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Rangel's diminishing hold on power


Thank You, Sir, for not being afraid to speak the truth, or at least pose the real questions about this. I'm shocked that neither the Progressive nor the Gay Press isn't all over this. As a gay man, I'm offended by Massa's attempts at distraction.

Posted by: blucaller | March 8, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

This strikes me as being some sort of psychic meltdown of epic proportions. There's nothing remotely dignified about what Massa's doing or in his willingness to drag down others with him. Of course, there's no reason to believe that Beck -- the ultimate conspiracy nut -- will actually engage in anything resembling fact-seeking, not when he has someone whom he thinks will spill the beans on the Democrats.

I do feel sorry for Massa's family -- his ranting has to be an embarrassment for them.

Posted by: SGfromMudville | March 8, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

This strikes me as being about Massa's vote. Why else would the Democrats want to persecute this guy. Why not go after Rengel or Patterson or anyone else. Capehart nice try to diminish the spotlight on the imploding Democrat party.

Posted by: bobilly2 | March 8, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Massa was pulling a Mark Foley on the male staffer and Rahm wouldn't have it. Yes Mark Foley was allowed to molest kids and the GOP protected him from being charged as the Families were paid off. Now there are many Law Makers with sick issures but Obama want have it on his watch. Now don't worry Massa, Foley, Cunningham, Craig and others crooks will be back in DC when a Republican President gets in office. All the GOP has to do is hold up a God sign and Americans will fall for it hook line and sinker. Maybe the GOP will send some Senators/Reps. to the Vatican for action. Yes World news reported the Vatican brought young boys/girls for the Holy Brothers to enjoy sex with.

Posted by: qqbDEyZW | March 8, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

This man's marriage and military reputation is on the line, so of course you would be running around all over the place, including over to the Glenn Beck show on Tuesday night to dispute the truth.

Bottom line is, he can't risk having the real truth coming out. Can he?

Posted by: lcarter0311 | March 8, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

what do u mean what's up? everybody knows that predatory homosexuals are the same as straight sexual predators. the real question is was he forced out of his elected office because he wouldn't bend over for pelosi?

Posted by: carlbatey | March 8, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Massa interpreta. of rahmbo is 'spot on' - he described the 'high priest rahm' down to the science.Pls,fire this 'corruptible tyrant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: somers91 | March 8, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Whats up? Whats up? You RATS know very well whats up.Rahm Emmanuel likes attacking naked men in the shower naked.To threaten them that is.

Posted by: Imarkex | March 8, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Your American Waterloo beatings are in November RATS bring your lies. The quicksand of your lies will be the scene of the slaughter.You cannot escape your lies.

Posted by: Imarkex | March 8, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

pls let's not get swayed with Massa but to focus on this 'Hindenberg health plan'Ask is it worth it? or will we have 'buyers' remorse?Of course bo,pelosi,rahm and the rest of gang will NOT BE there to hold accountable.

Posted by: somers91 | March 8, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I Massa is telling the "truth" about Rahm and the push to get rid of him so he can't cast the NO vote that kills healthcare since HIS vote is the deciding one (which I doubt) then the simple solution would have been for Massa NOT to resign and force the Ethics committee to find in 3 or 4 months that he may or may not have doen anything wrong but in the meantime he could have "killed healthcare" since that was what he claimed his goal was, why go kicking and screaming back to New York stay in DC and fight it to the bitter end, why the wuss out resignation, and all of the radio and tomorrow the Glenn beckistan show? Massa could fo a Charlie Rangel and fight the charges if he was innocent, but alas he seems to be a closet peter puffer and his puffing habits have now been exposed he should fit in with his new buddies on Faux they lie about what they really are also, they claim to be Journalists, and instead they are propagandists for the RNC ask Roger Aisles

Posted by: mikey30919 | March 8, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

mikey30919 It is an ethics matter i'll give you that.The ethics of Rahm Emmanuel and the rest of the corruption to change or get votes.This is not about health-care.It is about the lies about bill.It would cost way more than stated.It would "fundamentally change" America.The bill is Unconstitutional.

Posted by: Imarkex | March 9, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

bobilly2 wrote
This strikes me as being about Massa's vote. Why else would the Democrats want to persecute this guy.

So months ago Dem leadership decided they would need this one guy out of the way and set him up by--what? having sexy guys hang out near him and wait to be accosted??? I am not sure what you are saying, bobilly2. But you might want to check whether your political bias has totally overwhelmed your common sense (or maybe you think the offer to help the bunkmate is normal behavior????)

Posted by: scientist1 | March 9, 2010 4:45 AM | Report abuse

What would you do? Go quietly if you really felt this was all true? Why can't he tell his side of the story? This story follows a lot of others about Rahm, why don't you do a little something on this unfortunate man who has the ear of our unfortunate president every day.

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | March 9, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

The repugs will try to exploit this to the max in an effort to divert attention from their "PowerPoint" blueprint on how to hustle money from their lackeys and stir up fear within the ignorant populace.

Posted by: rbrent516 | March 9, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

The repugs will try to exploit this to the max in an effort to divert attention from their "PowerPoint" blueprint on how to hustle money from their lackeys and stir up fear within the ignorant populace.

Posted by: rbrent516 | March 9, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

This is no worse than the other "fairy tales" the current Administration is trying to tell us. Massa may be curious, he may have made advances, he might have been poked by Rahm...either way its amusing to watch all these Obamabots in a tizzy over this. Hope Glen Beck asks this guy point blank if he is gay- curious or bisexual and then watch him take a big gulp and voice another lie. It will be just one more lie from the radical Democrats in power - but it will help defeat this socialist Obamacare nightmare of a bill. Go Massa - bring em down..rahm it to them before they rahm it to you. Now tell us about the view in that shower room.. we want more dirt..

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | March 9, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

The distraction is this article.
Massa is a No vote on "healthcare" so he is out.
Rangle was a Yes vote with far worse transgressions but he is still in.
Members of congress are being bribed, bullied and threatened to vote on a bad bill.
Where's the transparent higher road democracy?

Posted by: lynnman1 | March 9, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

What's up indeed? We western NY'ers have gotten an earful from a guy who CLEARLY shouldn't be serving in Congress. Abandoning scripted campaign BS, Massa reveals the kind of rural thug-speak we rarely see in local media outlets. Jonathan is right. The more Massa talks, the wackier he sounds. Republicans are stupid to embrace this Monty Python Black Knight. Massa can't stop the other shoe from dropping...soon.

Posted by: Marrigan | March 9, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Here's the dream Repuke "bipartisan" ticket for 2012: Massa/Ashburn!

One conspiracy nut/pervert plus one self-loathing fudgepacker = GOP dream team.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | March 9, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Massa is suffering from an acuta and chronic case of "McGreevey Huffington Craig Syndrome."

It's "Outrage"-ous.

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 9, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

As amusing as Massa story would be if it was true, I must say that I don't find him all that credible.

This is the guy who went to the netroots get together and told the far left net roots people that he would vote against the interests of his constituents on the healthcare to get it passed. He ended up voting against the bill saying it wasn't expansive enough, and was trying to use the no vote to gain support from his conservative constituents back home. He says whatever serves his purposes at the time. His purposes right now being to get back at the Democratic leadership who threw him under the bus.

BTW I think it is totally possible that Democrats applied more pressure to get rid of him rather than, say, Charlie Rangel, whose ethical lapses are astonishing, because of the positions on the healthcare bills. So Massa is probably right about that. And I think that is shameful. But I would doubt the truthfulness of the Rahmbo shower story confrontation story. But mental the image gave me a good laugh, so I thank now Former Rep. Massa for that.

Posted by: RichTokyoJapan | March 9, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

The long and short of the matter is that another petty tyrant has been cut short in his quest to abuse the power of his Office. HE ADMITS IMPROPER BEHAVIOR and then follows that up by setting up numerous straw-man arguments. Sorry the issue is not what happened between him and Emmanuel on the phone. The issue is whether he acted inappropriately with his staff.

Even the fact that he comes off as a wannabe Hannity on his conservative talk show is not relevant. The people of New Jersey who elected this guy on Obama's coat tails can't complain that he was elected under false pretenses. They should have looked at him more closely.

Posted by: Reesh | March 9, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Massa is in nowhere land. The Right might try to use him briefly as someone the Dems pushed out because he was going to vote no again on HCR, but the whole thing just doesn't wash, or as someone said last night on a political show, "pass the scent test." Massa has thrown out too many excuses as to why he is resigning -- cancer, inappropriate behaviour and now mean old Rahm and Steny. Massa is just one out of 435. He will be long forgotten in about the proverbial 15 minutes.

Posted by: creatia52 | March 9, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Fact is; Massa is NOT "the deciding vote on healthcare".

He's not anywhere CLOSE to having that kind of power in the house.

So that is a strawman argument.

But then, that's what beck thrives on - bogus arguments and conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Heerman532 | March 9, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Funny, but somehow I can visualize a naked Rahm Emmanuel running around the Congressional locker room rounding up votes for a bad demmie bill in trouble.

I wonder who invited him to do so?

Has there been credible denial of such actions on Emmanuel's part?

Posted by: mlemac | March 9, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

As a former New Yorker from the Southern Tier I can say without a doubt that it is a good thing that Massa is gone! The Southern tier should have more than this man who not only can't keep his story straight but seeks to blame everyone else for his problems. The things that he had admitted are "strange" to say the least. The Southern Tier is better without him!

Posted by: AZdave | March 9, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Is Massa to be trusted??? Possibly NOT.. BUT can anyone really TRUST Rahm, the propaganda office by Goebel Axelros, and Gibbs Inept attempts to make sure that 2+2=22??? NAHHHH!!!! None of the Above anymore than believing the False Figures that the CHEF INEPT attempted to make them true in Pennsylvania yesterday being too intent on blaming the Insurance Comapnies without REAL FACTS ... VOTE EM ALL OUT...

Posted by: redhawk2 | March 9, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Massa's In Very Big Trouble.

Weekly Standard: Reliable sources on Capitol Hill say the House ethics report on Eric Massa will be damning. Obamacare opponents, like Glenn Beck, might want to think twice before indulging Massa and letting this Democratic creep become the posterboy of Obamacare opposition.

It was already self-evident that Eric Massa's story didn't add up. As Jonah Goldberg notes, it doesn't pass the smell test: If Massa admits he "tousled" the hair of a male staffer and told the staffer he ought to be "fracking" him, the whole story is probably much, much worse. And as Michelle Malkin says, "Don’t trust Democrat Rep. Eric Massa any further than you can throw him."

The Atlantic's Chris Good points out that Massa's timeline doesn't make any sense, either. When the story broke about Massa's ethics violations, it would neither have helped nor hurt Democrats to have him in office as a committed "no" vote:

When news broke last Wednesday that Massa would finish out his term without seeking reelection, that he faced these allegations, and that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer knew about them, the number of votes needed to pass health care reform was 216.

The next day, that number changed: Thursday afternoon, Republican Rep. Nathan Deal (GA) announced he would postpone his own retirement and stay in Congress long enough to vote "no" on health care. At that point, with another sitting lawmaker available for a vote, the magic number increased to 217.

Only after that point did it become beneficial, in theory, for Democratic leaders to force Massa out. The next day, Friday, Massa said he would resign effective the following Monday (today), and the number went back down to 216, helping Democratic leaders.

So Massa's staffer brought the issue to the attention of Steny Hoyer weeks ago, and the story leaked at a time when it didn't help the Democrats' health care vote one way or the other to have him in office. And Massa has changed his story--at first he said he was retiring because of health reasons, and then he resigned because he said Rahm Emanuel was out to get him. If the ethics charges are trumped up, why didn't Massa stay in the House another month to vote against health care?

Perhaps the answer is that Massa thought he might scuttle the House ethics investigation if he resigned. Traditionally, when a member resigns, the House Ethics Committee loses jurisdiction over that member. But Massa's case involves another congressional staffer, so the ethics committee will likely produce a report anyway, just as it did in Mark Foley's scandal with congressional pages.

The full story should come out eventually. And when it does, some conservatives may regret embracing Eric Massa.

Posted by: omaarsblade | March 9, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Once a republican, always a republican. they are all closet something or another, whether it is a cheating husband who always denies or a closet homosexual who is always denying, or a liar who is always denying his lies or a republican pretending to be a Democrat but really is a repub or a God lover who never follows God's rules. massa was a repub before and he will be one in the future, he will continue with his dumb moves and dumb talk because once people know who you really are, you can't deny anymore. That he is on Glenn Beck tonite tells me a lot more about massa than anything else. repubs, you are all a bunch of liars, all of you.

Posted by: ncarvill1 | March 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

What's up with Massa is that Obama and Pelosi want to reduce the number of votes they need!

Posted by: suegbic1 | March 9, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

How ironic that Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Chris Dodd who were well known grapplers, were never called to task by the MSM. Kennedy and Dodd were famous for their "waitress sandwich" after hours escapades, while Clinton found some unusual uses for his cigars! And the beat goes on.

Posted by: nmg3rln | March 9, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Whether its homosexual or heterosexual, Republican or Democrat, men doing the abusing or women doing abusing, people using their positions (excuse pun) to express their gross appetites is disgusting! Whatever happened to dignified, refined citizens of restraint to govern our country?

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Posted by: naitkonlyyou | March 9, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure it has already been said but how crazy is it to have a name like "Massa" for an Obama hate ball.

Posted by: Geopolitics101 | March 10, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

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