Massa ends brief political career on a sour note

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.