Mr. Massa, Please Go!

On last weekend’s NPR quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me," host Peter Sagal recalled the resignation of then-Governor Elliott Spitzer who got caught up in a high-end prostitution ring. Sagal commented, "Who know that would be the high water mark for moral conduct among New York politicians," or words to that effect.

Full disclosure: I think "Wait, Wait" is the best highbrow humor since the libretto of "Candide." My estimation of the news quiz show went up considerably, however, when they made one of my ideas the answer to a news question. During the Trent Lott mess, when he said the country would be better off if we had elected segregationist Strom Thurmond as president in 1948, one of the customers at Kramer’s and I came up with the idea for a special drink: The Trent Latte, separate but equal parts of coffee and milk. When "Wait, Wait" put the Trent Latte on their show, I was mighty proud.


Back to the plot. After the Charlie Rangel scandal and the David Peterson scandal, it seemed things could not get worse. Then along comes Eric Massa. First he was quitting for health reasons. Then he was forced out because the Speaker of the House wanted to lower the margin for passing health care, which Massa, like the perennial goofy left exhibit A Dennis Kucinich, opposes because it is not leftie enough. Finally, it took an hour on the show of Father Martin’s hero Glenn Beck to get to the bottom of things. Massa admitted groping male staffers but insisted it wasn’t sexual. He said he had not made the transition from Navy life to civilian and congressional life. (Don’t Ask! Please, of please, Don’t Tell!) In short, even Beck, who is crazy but not dumb, realized Mr. Massa was a fraud, a self-absorbed, "not my fault" whiner. Please Mr. Massa. Leave now!

I commended Gov. Spitzer at the time of his resignation because I was tired of politicians saying "I take full responsibility" for a given scandal but then doing nothing. The verbal taking of responsibility had become a way of dodging actual responsibility. And, to remind, in this context, the use of the word "responsible" is a technical, government term that means, in effect, if it happens on your watch, you must go. This is especially the case when the office holder is the source of the mess-up. When Massa announced his resignation, I was hopeful we were going to see a similar moment. Instead, we saw a spineless wonder who managed to besmirch the reputation of the Speaker of the House and the White House Chief of Staff on his way out the door. Good riddance.

Michael Sean Winters

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
James Lindsay
8 years 2 months ago
Be nice, Michael. From what I have heard of his performance on Beck, he is obviously losing his marbles - probably because of the cancer but possibly due to some other cause. Either way, he should be pitied, not scorned.
Helena Loflin
8 years 2 months ago
Glenn Beck, like a lapping puppy, invites Eric Massa on his show.  Beck expects (and begs) Massa to shovel dirt about members of the Obama administration for an hour.  Instead, Massa insists he is guilty of all charges and that the ways to fix Washington are for ALL Americans to be involved/engaged and passage of effective campaign finance reform.  Beck has to apologize to his viewers for an hour devoid of the anticipated standard fare: toxic red meat laced with lies, warped thinking, nonsense, distortions and all manner of bigotry.  Priceless. 
There is a God!
And, yes, good riddance to Massa. 
Gabriel Marcella
8 years 2 months ago
The Beck-Massa event is a sad commentary on our society. Instead of news and objective analysis we get superficiality, unending partisanship, theatrical emotion, and noise. The communication revolution is a marvelous thing, but one wonders if we're not losing coverage, depth, balance, and objectivity. Note the demise of newspapers, the practical demise of stalwarts like Newsweek, and the reduced international coverage by the electronic and written media. Let's hope that America magazine bucks the trend and does not become another sounding board for the cacophony around us.
Robbie Monsma
8 years 2 months ago
I keep waitng for Glenn Beck's  "Lonesome Rhodes" moment


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

An official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, center, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Others in photo from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; center row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
A poll found that 66 percent of the British public declared they were not interested in the Windsor wedding.
David StewartMay 23, 2018
God simply is a triad of love: a going out in love, a return in love and thus, ever more, love itself.
Terrance KleinMay 23, 2018
The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018