Steve Benen on Massa's Humanity

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The high-profile implosion of retiring Democratic Congressman Eric Massa has delighted Washington to no end. Massa's many embarrassments, after all, have come mostly by the congressman's own hand. Instead of bowing out quietly, he has flung furious insults at the White House, alleged conspiracies that he later dropped, and, in a bizarre hour-long interview with Glenn Beck, proudly trumpeted the "groping" episodes that have landed him in such trouble. A devastating report by the Atlantic's Josh Green, revealing that Massa's behavior goes back to his Navy days, further cements Massa's quickly-earned reputation for inappropriate and outlandish behavior.

But the congressman who has become D.C.'s latest punchline (and punching bag) is also, the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen reminds us, human. Struggling under the dual pressures of enduring lymphoma and running a congressional office may have just been too much for him. Rather than taking a whack at the latest political pinata, Benen attempts something very rare in beltway punditry: actual human sympathy.

It's an almost tragic ending to what was once a promising career. The right-wing will no doubt embrace him as some kind of hero -- a "victim" of Democratic heavy-handedness -- but in truth, it sounds like Massa is going through a very difficult personal time right now, and he's dealing with the issues in a destructive and unhealthy way. That's not heroism; that's just sad.

Benen added of the unfolding drama, "it only adds to the personal tragedy of Eric Massa. As he approaches rock bottom, he's burning bridges with his former allies on the left, and finding the drawbridge rising among his sought-out friends on the right."

He concludes, remaking on Massa's Glenn Beck interview, and perhaps of the entire Massa saga, "Was there any real point to this bizarre political theater? Not so much."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.