Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y), like many pols before him, is in the midst of a whirlwind media storm. Massa abruptly resigned from his congressional seat amid myriad tales of political-[in]correctness to downright sexual harassment. And like all juicy stories, they begin to take a life of their own and sometimes morph into something much bigger.
Massa is on the attack. He has gone from being the accused, to playing the victim; and is now taking the more offensive stance of being the plaintiff. Not long after Massa spent forty-five minutes on a local radio talk show on Sunday, baring his soul about all-things-scandalous, did the main stream media pick up on the story.
The story, as told by Massa, goes something like this:
1. The congressman allegedly "harassed" a male staffer of his during a wedding reception New Year's Eve.
2. Another one of Massa's staff employees, apparently uncomfortable with what occurred, approached House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer regarding a "complaint."
3. Hoyer allegedly tells this staffer to officially bring said complaint to the House Ethics Committee, or "I'll be forced to do it" if you don't.
4. Complaint is made and investigation begins.
5. Massa, aware of the potential fallout, distances himself from the matter by stating his cancer has returned, and thus will be retiring in the near future.
6. The MSM picks up on the story (even though the Gov. Patterson and Charlie Rangel story gets most of the media's attention).
7. As more details are learned regarding the Massa issue, Massa goes on the offensive and appears on a talk radio program to 'clear the air.'
8. Rep. Massa explains his side of the story during the 'wedding' incident, goes on the record saying he is being 'forced out' of Congress by congressional leadership (Pelosi, Hoyer and others), and also implicates Rahm Emanuel as a co-conspirator for not supporting the president's health care bill.
9. The scandal has now became a full-blown 'he said, she said.'
For the record, Massa described the 'wedding' incident as follows:
"And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me, and I said, 'What I really ought to be doing is fracking you,' and then [I] tussled the guy's hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to the point where I shouldn't be there."
But Massa added more during his radio interview, describing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and how he tried to pressure Massa to vote on Obama's budget:
“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn, Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive…I am 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.”
Rep. Massa goes on to explain the reasons he's resigning his seat:
"You have my apology and you have my resignation, because I'm a human being, but I will not go quietly into the evening. I will not be ashamed of my actions, other than the fact that I used inappropriate, verbal - V-E-R-B-A-L - language," he said. "And I was set up for this from the very, very beginning. If you think that somehow they didn't come after me to get rid of me because my vote is the deciding vote on the health-care bill, then, ladies and gentlemen, you live today in a world that is so innocent as to not understand what is going on in Washington, D.C."
Massa also denied on the radio show that he is gay. "Ask my wife - I think she can answer that question," he said.
And the saga is only going to get a lot spicier as the Progressive Massa is scheduled to appear on Fox News' Glenn Beck show Tuesday night for an entire hour. Rush Limbaugh has also chimed in saying this will become the cause celebre for Republicans to exploit the Democrats' oft-suspected behind-closed-doors attitude about the health care debate.
Yet, the million dollar question still remains: Why did Massa resign if he is innocent? Nobody is forcing him out. Thus, Massa's veracity will be challenged by everyone. Wouldn't it be just retribution to stay on as congressman while the Ethics Committee conducts its investigation? After all, 99% of all politicians hang on until Satan himself is at the door before throwing in the towel (read: Nixon, Clinton and Mark Foley).
We'll just have to wait and see how this story unfolds. Innuendo, hyperbole and a lot of blog posts will surely follow. But the reality is that the former congressman is one ornery 'Massa-chist.'