Jonathan Chait

The Ever-Changing Massa Conspiracy

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On Monday, Eric Massa had transformed himself into a Republican hero by railing against the Democratic leadership and hinting that he was being set up in order to facilitate the passage of health care reform. Conservative outlets swarmed with conspiratorial thinking. At National Review's blog, for instance, Kathryn Jean Lopez published a letter from a reader:

Obama asked Patterson not to run for governor.  He refused and he has been destroyed.  Massa was a no vote, and he has been destroyed.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Remember during the Chrysler bankruptcy, recalcitrant bondholders were threatened that the full force of the White House press corps would be turned against them, should they not comply.  Now we know what that looks like.

Jim Geraghty chimed in:

This Is the Same House of Representatives That Employs Barney Frank, Right?

In discussions with a Hill source, the following question arose: To hear Rep. Eric Massa tell it, all he did was attend a wedding, dance with a bridesmaid, tousle a male staffer's hair, and joke that he should be [engaged in sexual relations] with that male staffer.

Crass? Sure. But would that alone really be sufficient to motivate even the most fastidious, hypersensitive staffer of the House Ethics Committee to open an investigation? And would that be enough to get Rep. Steny Hoyer to tell Massa and his staff to report the complaint to the Ethics Committee within 48 hours?

Or is there a little more to this story? Some other shoe to drop?

Now the scandal turns out to be not the fact that the Democratic leadership concocted a phony investigation to destroy Massa, but that they closed up the investigation after he resigned, rather than continuing it:

House Minority Leader John Boehner and other top Republicans will offer a resolution calling on the ethics committee to reopen its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.).

"The American people expect that their members of Congress are held to the highest ethical standards," Boehner told reporters on Thursday.

Boehner said there are "unanswered questions that have been raised" about the handling of the Massa case by Democrats.

Three days ago, they were conspiring against Massa. Now they're conspiring to cover up for him.

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