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Eric Massa — When My Enemy’s Enemy Is Not My Friend

Posted on March 11 2010 6:49 am
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Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill and this administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, 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.

— Eric Massa

And what a set of dots they are.

Eric Massa’s recent “I-was-pushed” resignation,  the immediate “he-was-pushed” patter-chorus that followed, and the emerging revelation that he has probably been pushing a lot more than that, provide multiple examples of why it’s sometimes a good idea to leave it in the holster for a while.

Glenn Beck, all sooty-faced like Elmer Fudd on the business end of an exploding cigar, is probably reflecting on the truth of this as we speak. Devoting a full hour to Massa’s screeching-tire denials — punctuated with straight-faced explanations of why tickle-fights with staffers is the new normal —  is probably not the David Frost moment Beck had in mind.

Larry King, generally uninterested in David Frost moments of any kind, was probably the more logical choice to host the Congressman’s continuing retreat into the sea.

On the record, I have no doubt Obama’s people got to Massa, any more than I doubt that Massa provided them lots to get him with. Likewise I have no doubt there are probably other members of Congress with 8×10 glossies sitting in a file-cabinet somewhere on the other end of the Mall who are thinking hard about that extended cruise they’ve always wanted to take.

What I don’t think, with apologies to some of my colleagues at NewsReal Blog, is that Massa is an innocent crusader in the mold of Jimmie Stewart. Nor do I think Massa is any particular friend of the vast majority of Americans who oppose the Senate Health Care bill. Let’s remember that his principal objection was the absence of the Public Option, which amounts to a kvetch that the bill isn’t intrusive enough.

The deal Massa made, and evidently lived with for a good long time, can be summed up as follows: We don’t care what you do — we care how you vote. Keep to the reservation and your indiscretions stay in the family — wander off and you’ll get a sunburn from all the flash bulbs. Feel free to frolic among the tee-pees otherwise. (I’m actually surprised this hasn’t replaced the Ten Commandments over the chamber door, but it’s early.) It is likely that Massa’s reaction — after a quick  “You mean you wuz serious about that?” Joe Pesci turn — had more to do with an inflated sense of his own importance than any desire to storm the Bastille.

The teaching moment here — from someone who may have been known to jump the gun and/or the shark himself a time or two in the past — is my enemy’s enemy is not necessarily my  friend, even when his story seems to fit neatly into a particular narrative. It may be tempting to make Massa a poster child for the Resistance but it will only boomerang as it becomes increasingly apparent he hasn’t resisted much.

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