Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Relevance of Massa's Apology and Flip Flop

In response to my previous post's update, Rottenchester got the following comment from Massa spokesman Jared Smith: "Eric Massa has made absolutely no apologies on this subject and stands by his previous statements."

So now we have a categorical denial from Massa, while Eliot Engel's office still asserts that Massa called them while Engel was away to apologize.

This whole episode speaks volumes for Massa and his campaign. Massa had a field day with bashing Congressman Kuhl about this trip for a week now. He thought he had a campaign issue and ran with it, gaining some press coverage and generating lots of buzz in the blogosphere in an otherwise slow news week. Yet, in order to attack Congressman Kuhl, Massa would have to imply that the five Democrats who also went on this bipartisan trip were wrong in going, particularly the trip's organizer, Eliot Engel, a fellow Democrat from New York serving his tenth term in Congress. Massa derided this trip publicly, yet Engel's office claims that Massa privately called them to apologize. This is as two faced as you can get. He actively drums up this non-story to create controversy, and then knowing this would anger the Democrats on the trip, he does an about-face privately. You know, "Psst, I really didn't mean to offend you, just my opponent. I mean, I almost won last year, and I need to exploit this as much as I can. Sorry!"

And then, after it's revealed publicly that he did call to apologize, he refutes it. Yet, one has to ask, why on Earth would Eliot Engel's office lie about this? Engel is a Democrat's Democrat, a guy who would love to see his party gain seats next year. In fact, it only stands to reason that Massa would want to apologize to such a powerful New York Democrat like Engel, given his seniority in the party, his access to donors, his contacts on Capitol Hill, etc.

But after Engel's office publicly disclosed Massa's apology, this created a conundrum for Massa. He either had to (a) admit that he did apologize to Engel, which would mean that Congressman Kuhl also deserved an apology (i.e., Congressman Kuhl did the exact same thing as Engel here, so logically, he should get an apology too), or (b) deny that he apologized, since it makes him look weak and hypocritical to the public after how much he drummed up this issue. Massa chose the latter route, but now risks being publicly accused of lying from a senior member of his own party and/or privately lose the support of such a high ranking New York Democrat.

Massa's certainly dug a big hole for himself...

1 comment:

Rottenchester said...

I don't really have more to say about the "who's lying" question. Massa's categorically denied that he apologized. Kuhl says he did. I don't think either one of these people are habitual liars, so we have a he said/he said.

Three things:

First, I think you're misreading Massa if you think that he's going to go out of his way to curry favor with Eliot Engel or any other establishment Democrat. Massa is starting to get some money from the DCCC this cycle, but they basically ignored him last cycle. He has some close allies in the Democratic party, but he is not the "party man". If you don't believe me, believe the FEC. Compare him to Dan Maffei, who got a lot more money from the DCCC last cycle.

Second, I think there's some impact on Rep Kuhl for taking this trip, and it's logical that his office would push back with everything they have. The 29th CD is full of pretty conservative people who don't like their MOC spending tax money on fancy trips, and this was a fancy trip, no matter if it had a serious purpose.

Finally, Massa said basically the same things about the trip in this week's press conference as he said last week. I've included extensive quotes from that PC on my blog, so your readers can take a look and judge for themselves. Why would he do that if he was on tiptoes afraid of alienating Engel after apologizing to him. This last point is the one that really makes me wonder about what Engel's office told Kuhl.