This is bad news, I think.
I own this reality. There is no doubt in my mind that I did in fact, use language in the privacy of my own home and in my inner office that, after 24 years in the Navy, might make a Chief Petty Officer feel uncomfortable. In fact, there is no doubt that this Ethics issue is my fault and mine alone. But in the incredibly toxic atmosphere that is Washington D.C., with the destruction of our elected leaders having become a blood sport, especially in talk radio and on the internet, there is also no doubt that an Ethics investigation would tear my family and my staff apart. Some would say that this is what happens when you stand apart from political parties, which I have done. Others will say that this is what happens to a non politician when they go to Washington DC. I want to make something perfectly clear. My difficulties are of my own making. Period. I am also aware that blogs and radio will have a field day with this in today’s destructive and unforgiving political environment. In that investigators would be free to ask anything about me going back to my birth, I simply cannot rise to that level of perfection. God knows that I am a deeply flawed and imperfect person.
During long car rides, in the early hours of the evening, late at night and always in private, I know that my own language failed to meet the standards that I set for all around me and myself. I fell short and I believe now, as I have always believed, that it is not enough to simply talk the talk, but rather I must take action to hold myself accountable.
Uh huh. Anyone think a congressman would be facing an ethics investigation serious enough to force him to resign — after he’s already decided to retire — for using “salty language” or whatever? This is Massa’s attempt to spin the sexual harassment allegations as some sort of hostile work environment dynamic, i.e. demeaning an employee with sexually tinged rhetoric. If you believe Politico, though, this was sexual harassment the old-fashioned way: The ethics complaint allegedly accused him of having made “unwanted advances” towards a male staffer, which, from what Bob Lonsberry’s heard, isn’t the first time that charge has been leveled at him. Another Politico story filed just this morning quotes an aide to Massa as saying he’s been engaged in “inappropriate behavior” for at least eight months. And yet, wouldn’t you know it, Madam Speaker’s only hearing about it for the first time now:
The speaker told reporters that she did not learn about the Massa allegations until Wednesday.
“I asked my staff; I said, ‘Have there been any rumors about any of this before?’” Pelosi said. “There had been a rumor, but just that, no formal notification to our office that anything — a one-, two-, three-person-removed rumor that had been reported to Mr. Hoyer’s office that had been reported to my staff, which they didn’t report to me, because, you know what? This is rumor city. Every single day, there are rumors. I have a job to do and not to be the receiver of rumors.”
She has enough headaches to deal with that she can’t afford a lame-duck sex scandal too, so out he goes. So why is all this bad news? Massa voted no on ObamaCare last time, but as a retiree, he’d probably vote yes this time, right? We just knocked out a yes vote! Well, don’t be so sure: Massa was unusual among the caucus in that, like Kucinich, he’s a hard-left devotee of single-payer. A man that committed to socialist principle wasn’t an automatic flip, retirement notwithstanding. I think it’s just as likely as not that we’ve lost a no vote here — which, if true, would mean that Pelosi’s threshold to pass the bill is back down to 216 from 217. (In fact, I wonder if one of the reasons he was asked to resign is because Pelosi thought he might vote no again.) Bummer.
The earliest Paterson could schedule a special election is 40 days from now. That should be too far down the road to matter to O-Care if the Dems stick to their deadline, but … they’re not going to stick to their deadline, let’s face it. Stay tuned.
Update: Steny Hoyer referred Massa’s case to the ethics committee almost a month ago. And Pelosi only heard about it this week?
Update: Like I said, bummer.
With Massa gone, the House will have 431 members, meaning a majority is just 216 not the 218 usually required. Because Massa opposed the House-passed healthcare reform bill and hadn’t given any hints that he would change his vote when the final version comes up in the next few weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just caught a break.