The political scene just got messier and uglier for the Democrats, the White House and for the passage of health care reform: Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) has gone on the offensive and says he is being virtually forced to resign and that he could decide to rescind his resignation.
Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) suggested on a New York radio station Sunday that he could rescind his resignation — scheduled to take effect at 5 p.m. Monday — after asserting that an ethics investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed one of his aides may have been orchestrated by Democratic leaders to get him out of office before the health care vote.
Not a good press narrative for the Democrats — one that may not help it with wavering Democrats in Congress.
Responding to a caller to his weekly radio show on WKPQ Power 105 FM, a recording of which was made available via the Web site of local station 13 WHAM-TV, Massa said: “I’m not going to be a Congressman as of 5 o’clock [Monday] afternoon. The only way to stop that is for me to rescind my resignation. That’s the only way to stop it. And the only way that’s going to happen is if this becomes a national story.”
During the hour-and-a-half show, Massa said that Democratic leaders are using the House ethics committee to get him out of office before the vote on health care because he voted against the House health care bill last fall.
“Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill, and this administration and this House leadership have said, ‘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,” Massa said Several times during the broadcast Massa raised the prospect of rescinding his resignation if national news media picked up on his story of being railroaded out of office by Democratic leaders.
And it doesn’t end there:
In response to a caller’s suggestion that Massa disseminate his allegations by contacting Fox News, Massa stated: “I can’t call Fox News. You guys gotta call Fox News. I can’t do it. … Here’s why. I’m in the center of this storm, so obviously I’m not objective.”
But Massa also repeatedly pointed out that the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly referred to as the ethics panel, would continue its investigation if he remains in office.
“That’s very kind of you, but understand what that means for me,” Massa said in a response to a caller who suggested he not resign. “It means that a group of lawyers are going to try to rip me and my family limb from limb. And you’ve already seen it in the newspapers. … It’s a piranha feeding frenzy.”
Translation: the Massa story will be a big political story today, sucking up a lot of the political oxygen and grabbing the attention of a sometimes ADDH-like news media so attention elsewhere (such as any message the administration is trying to get out on health care) will be diminished.
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.