Who knows what’s going on inside the head of former New York Rep. Eric Massa, the ex-Navy man who likes to grope his male staff members and engage in tickle fights in inappropriate places.
Massa’s roller-coaster ride into self-destruction continues unabated this week, as he desperately tries to explain away his bizarre behavior and avoid answering whether he is a closeted gay man.
It all started late last week when Massa, a Republican-turned-Democrat from western New York, told the media that he would not run for re-election because of a cancer scare in December.
The next day, however, Massa said that he would instead resign on Monday – after word leaked out that he was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee over allegations that he had sexually harassed a junior male staffer. Massa then said the incidents were purely verbal, not physical, and he blamed his salty language on his Navy past.
The media dug deeper into the story, learning that the alleged victim was not a junior male staffer but Massa’s powerful Legislative Director Ron Hikel, who has since resigned. And the incidents were indeed physical, not just verbal.
On Monday, as his congressional door was slamming shut for the final time, Massa then admitted that the incidents were physical, but insisted that they were not sexual. He then told the story of attending a staffer’s wedding in January, when he said he grabbed the aide and joked about having sexual relations with him.
Then on Tuesday, while appearing on Glenn Beck’s show, Massa had another spin on his story. This time, he talked about yet another groping incident, which took place at his birthday party in a town house he shared with five aides, all bachelors.
"Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me," Massa said. "It was my 50th birthday. It was 'kill the old guy.' You can take anything out of context."
The incident upset Massa’s Chief of Staff Joe Racalto, who apparently witnessed the rough play.
"My chief of staff had a conniption and said: 'You can't live there; It's not congressional,'" Massa told Beck.
Massa’s ever-changing story has all but destroyed his credibility, yet Massa has tried to save face by hurling mud at his perceived enemies.
He began blaming fellow Democrats for his downfall, accusing them of forcing him out of Congress because he was going to vote against President Obama’s health care plan. Suddenly the congressman who once was the bane of the GOP was appearing on Fox News as proof that Obamacare was going to send America to hell in a hand basket.
Massa even accused White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel of bullying him over health care in the congressional showers while both men were naked. (Where was CNN?) The White House disputes Massa's recollections over the shower incident (watch the video below).
The reviews have not been kind.
“This guy is a human train wreck,” Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said on “The Ed Show” earlier this week. “You watch him on television, you can’t feel sorry for him because he’s totally out of control.”
Shrum didn’t stop there.
“He needs help. He’s obviously lived a lie. And now he’s told a series of lies,” Shrum said.
Only Massa knows for sure if he is a closeted gay man, but he won’t answer the question. Larry King directly asked him that question on his CNN show this week, and Massa dodged the issue. In the video, Massa’s body language is worth watching: He rarely looks directly at the camera and often bats his eyelids, as if he is avoiding something.
Let’s review the facts. Massa gropes men inappropriately. Massa tickles men inappropriately. He tries to laugh it off, saying it is what old Navy guys do. (Really?)
Some of Massa's old Navy buddies are fighting back, too, and Joshua Green of The Atlantic has that scandal covered. He'll tell you about the infamous "Massa Massages" given to bunkmates.
The more Massa protests, the more the public believes he is hiding in the closet. Yes, being in the closet is a painful and personal choice, but it also forces people to live lies – BIG LIES – in order to protect their secrets.
In an ABC News interview with Charlie Rose broadcast Wednesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Massa a sad figure.
"This is a very sick person," Pelosi told Rose. "He has been diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps his judgment is impaired because of the ethical issues that have arisen, and he is no longer in the Congress."
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at (877) 727-5446, ext 713, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.