Former Congressman Eric Massa – will the truth shock you?

Last night, I was watching FOX which I generally don’t like. I prefer MSNBC but its bias often drives me crazy as well but that’s another story. Former Congressman Eric Massa (D – 29th District) who was freshman, had a lot to say on “The Glenn Beck Program.” 

He apologized numerous times for his behavior and his affording himself to be that close to his staffers (an investigation in the House Ethics Committee over allegations about sexually harrassing his staff had been started). Of course, Glenn Beck was repeatedly trying to further humiliate Eric Massa, the Democratic Party and the Obama Administration but failed in his effort, and “apologized” America for wasting its time: just in case FOX viewers are reminded that FOX is heavily conservative mainstream media. No wonder why namely FOX invited Eric Massa: what a great opportunity to push their agenda.

The most important part of that night’s Glenn Beck Program was what the former Congressman said about the scandal and about the system. Here are some excerpts from what he said:

  1. As freshman Congressman, you spend five hours of your day calling [current and potential sponsors] and asking them for money for your campaign.
  2. [Some current and potential sponsors] say: “If you don’t vote for the bill, we will not sponsor you.”
  3. I cannot fight the Democratic Party, I cannot fight the Republicans… The system is broke
  4. [Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel is good at creating enemies. He is not good at making friends. He hated me.
  5. Rahm Emanuel came to me and said that I must vote for the health care reform bill.

These are not Eric Massa’s exact words but are what I remember from their conversation. The last one is part of the so called “shower incident.”

Speaking of Rahm Emanuel, his acquaintance with Eric Massa dates a long time ago. Here is a video clip found under a news article on Huffington Post‘s website that proves that:

So…

Is Eric Massa saying the truth, or is he lying, or is he exaggerating? From the point of view of a political outsider, one can only do extensive research and reach to certain conclusions that are not necessarily correct, but I will try to get as close to the truth as possible even without doing a research about who wanted to sponsor him under what condition. You’ll see why I am not going to do that.

The year 2006 was the first time when Eric Massa was running for the 29th Congressional seat in New York. He lost to Republican incumbent John Kuhl Jr. Click here to see the amount of money that Mr. Massa raised back then. The price of this seat in the House of Representatives cost roughly $1.5 million. Over the next 2 years, its price was raised by about 33%, or up to $2.15 million, which is not surprising since it was during Presidential elections as well. The American people tends to have a high voting turnout on every election during the year of the Presidential election.

It really doesn’t matter much which of Mr. Massa’s top, middle, or bottom contributors wanted him to vote for the health care bill because there is nothing wrong in what they wanted. Sponsoring a campaign – whether local, state or federal – is part of an individual’s or a group’s First Amendment right of free speech. Through these campaign donations, they ‘communicate’ with the elected officials, they want their voices to be heard. If the two sides don’t reach to a consensus on a specific issue that is important to the sponsoring side, unless the particular politician is a career one, they would usually loose these contributors’ money for the upcoming elections but would win other contributors’ money – the ones’ whose view on that issue is closer to theirs. That’s why labor unions, for example, donate money to Republicans very rarely, and even when they do – they most likely have already donated times more money to the respective Democratic opponent.

 The upside of this process is that politicians would be more able to realize what is generally to the best interest of their constituents, and would usually try to get it done for them in the capital, instead of becoming as arrogant as to always know what is best for them.

Meanwhile, its downside is that some of their sponsors’ demands could be dysfunctional. In this case, the elected official would have to try to explain these sponsors the reality in a most comprehensive way. The final result might often be losing their financial support but unless the particular politician is a career one, he or she will have to get over it.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Eric Massa said the truth when he said that “As freshman Congressman, you spend five hours of your day calling [current and potential sponsors] and asking them for money for your campaign.” A freshman Representative is still generally unknown in their own district, so if they want to run for reelection, they not only have to build a decent legislative record, but they also have to look for sponsors from Day 1 of their term in Washington D.C. I have come across with rumors about a freshman Representatives who really started looking for sponsors from Day 1. 

Running for a federal elected position – whether the House of Representatives or the Senate or the Presidency – is a longterm process which usually requires exploring your chances of beating the incumbent or opponent. These chances cannot be realized overnight but that’s a topic for another entry.

The problem with the House of Representatives is that the term there is merely two years. If it was four years, at least the first year could be used to a legislator’s best – not spending five hours every day worrying about who is going to sponsor their potential campaign for reelection but instead making sure the voices of their constituents are heard in Washington.

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3 Comments

Filed under Politics

3 responses to “Former Congressman Eric Massa – will the truth shock you?

  1. Both FOX and MSNBC are so biased it’s funny! Anyway, good analysis of the situation, but I think changing the terms of U.S. Reps would completely change the whole purpose of the House to begin with. As you know, House Representatives are elected every two years so that they can be more accountable to their constituents. Yes, they are always in an election season, because they have to be on the election block for so often, but that’s the whole idea. The fact that each election costs so much is another story and maybe the election system needs to be analyzed, but I am not sure that changing electino terms is a good idea. Senators are up for reelection every 6 years (and only a third of them every two years to ensure continuity) and it’s their job to look after ‘the big picture’. But U.S. Reps should be very much accountable to the people they represent, which shorter terms achieve.

  2. The downside of the accountability argument that you discussed is not only being too busy looking for sponsors but also having little chance to prove that you are a decent legislator because once a legislation is passed, it usually takes about 1-2 years to figure out how good or bad it was. By that time, Election Day will have probably passed.

  3. Yes, but the upside I think is a lot more important. Accountability is a rare commodity in politics and any way it can be demanded is a good way.

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