By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) punked conservative talk show host Glenn Beck yesterday by recanting his earlier allegations that House Democrats forced him out of office because he refused to vote for health care reform. Massa resigned on Monday amidst allegations that he sexually harassed one or more male staffers.
Adele Stan has a nice recap of the implosion of Massa's political career at AlterNet. Massa initially said he was stepping down because he had cancer. Then the news broke that the House Ethics Committee was probing allegations that Massa sexually harassed a male staffer.
Beck gave Massa the entire show. Clearly Beck was hoping the former congressman would lay bare nefarious wheeling and dealing by House Democrats to pass health care reform. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly argues that the Massa train wreck shows the weakness in the whole Beck schtick. Beck didn't bother to find out whether there was a conspiracy. He just assumed Massa was going to tell him what he wanted to hear.
Massa and the health care reform conspiracy
As Tim Fernholtz points out in TAPPED, the notion that Massa was forced out over his stance on health care reform was never very promising, even by conspiracy theory standards: Why would Massa take this moment to start listening to the Democratic leadership, having blithely ignored them throughout his brief political career?
More to the point, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel didn't force Eric Massa to act like a drunken sailor in front of his staff. Clearly, the Dems are relieved to see Massa go. In addition to a near total lack of interpersonal boundaries, he was an unshakable "no" on health reform. The guy is clearly a loose cannon, in the saltiest and most nautical sense. If House Dems had seized the opportunity to get rid of him, that would have been more sound management than conspiracy.
But under the bright lights, Massa dropped the conspiracy allegations and blamed himself for ethical lapses, according Eric Kleefeld of TPMDC. "I wasn't forced out. I forced myself out. I failed," said Massa.
In fact, Massa seemed eager to preemptively confess to even more inappropriate behavior: "Now, they're saying I groped a male staffer. Yes, I did. Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and four guys jumped on top of me," Massa told Beck, "It was my 50th birthday. It was kill the old guy."
Massa even brought visual aids to assist in his own indictment. He showed Beck a scrapbook of a "crossing the line" ceremony from his Navy days. "It looks like an orgy in Caligula," Massa chirped. His point being that he never got out of the creepy, gropey habits he picked up in the Navy.
He even whipped out an x-ray of his own gut to prove that he really does--or at any rate, really might--have cancer.
By the end of the show, Beck apologized to America for wasting the country's time.
Kucinich still opposed to reform
Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) remains steadfast in his opposition to health care reform, calling it a giveaway to the insurance companies. On the Ed Schultz Show, insurance company whistleblower Wendell Potter urged Kucinich to quit posturing and take the deal, according to Ruth Conniff of The Progressive. Potter agrees that the deal is a massive giveaway to insurers, but he thinks Kucinich is unrealistic to hold out for a better deal.
Stupak smoke signals
Fervent anti-choicer Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) has been threatening for months to derail health care reform over the abortion issue. This week, Stupak was back in the news with some cryptic remarks. He told a town meeting that there was "no such thing as a compromise" on the abortion issue, but he also said that he was more optimistic than he was a week ago that the House leadership could offer him some kind of acceptable accommodation. Stupack insisted that any such deal would have to be written before the bill goes to the Senate for a vote.
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