Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Metamorphosis Gone Wild

For the benefit of those who may not know, the esteemed Congressman shown in the following video clip was my roommate for a semester, and company-mate for all of my 4 years, at the U.S. Naval Academy in the class of 1981. He was a good friend of mine. He was in my wedding. Now he refuses to talk to me or acknowledge my existence. At that time, he was an ultra-conservative Reagan Republican. He spent 20 years in the Navy (not 24 as he is fond of saying), in the end working as General Wesley Clark's Navy Liaison when Clark was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Today, we get this:

Elected to represent the people of the 29th District of NY, Mr. Massa publicly and proudly tells them that he will vote against their wishes, no matter how vehemently they hold them, because he knows what's "going to help them." Apparently, these poor folks can't figure out such a thing for themselves. Eric Massa knows better. Do we need any further demonstration of the arrogance of our political class than this? Where do these people come from? On this one, I can offer some insight.

Massa retired from the Navy in 2001 after a battle with cancer and moved to Corning, NY to work for Corning Incorporated. After losing his job during Corning's downsizing, he was put in contact with Representative Duncan Hunter of San Diego, CA because of Hunter's relationship with Massa's father. This led to his working on Hunter's staff in his capacity as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He left that job (whether he was fired or resigned is hotly debated -- I give him the benefit of the doubt and accept his version of the story -- that he was fired) after a controversial meeting with his former boss, Wesley Clark.

When he left Hunter's staff, Massa became a political consultant and, soon thereafter, began a run for Congress in NY's 29th District against Republican incumbent Randy Kuhl. Massa lost the election in 2006 and immediately began his campaign for the 2008 election. During the runup to the election, Massa was proud of his alliances with the likes of Wesley Clark, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Elliot Spitzer and the gay community of Washington, DC. Each of these produced not only endorsements, but public praise and, most importantly, financial backing for his run for office. The centerpiece of his platform was his opposition to the Iraq War and a visceral hatred for President George W. Bush. As time went on and more liberal money came in, Massa's views moved further and further to the left. He rode the unpopularity of Bush to win the 2008 election by a narrow margin.

I will never forget the day I first witnessed Mr. Massa using the death of his former roommate and our mutual friend, Lieutenant David Nairn, to his political advantage during the campaign. Dave was among the 220 Marines who were murdered by terrorists when their barracks was bombed in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983. Eric always told the story of how he found Dave's address book amidst the rubble of that building. But in a campaign blog during his run for Congress, the story was embellished into why Eric Massa "knows about war firsthand" because "he pulled the body of his dead roommate out of [that] rubble." Let's be clear -- Eric Massa has never been in close combat (though he was among the crew that lobbed 18" rounds into Beirut from his station aboard the USS New Jersey) and he never pulled anyone's body out of any rubble anywhere. He may attribute that embellishment to a staffer who wrote on his blog, but he was responsible for the content of that blog. If any issue should have caught his attention for correction, one would think that such a blatant misuse of a dead friend's memory ought to qualify.

I will never forget the day in January 2009, sitting in a hotel room watching C-SPAN, that I watched my former roommate and like-minded ally literally yell at the top of his lungs to cast his vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House in the 111th Congress. Pelosi is admittedly a collectivist and, like Mr. Massa (they are both Catholic), denounces the pro-life views of her church without a hint of regret (I wrote about Massa's take on embryonic stem cell research here: A Response to Mr. Massa: It's the Embryonic Part, Eric. He is also on record here of being in support of abortion on demand), yet he voted for her with great enthusiasm.

Regarding the issues, Eric Massa has dared to comment about, On The Issues reports the following:
  • Strongly favors a woman's "right" to abortion, though he says it should be "safe, legal and rare" (but if it's OK, why would we care if it's 'rare'?)
  • Strongly opposes privatizing Social Security (a socialist Ponzi scheme)
  • Strongly opposes school vouchers (for kids who can't afford decent schools on their own)
  • Strongly favors the idea that human activity is the "primary cause" of climate change (evidence please?)
I do not judge friendships by political affiliation. Never have, never will. But the fact is that my former friend began to ignore and shun me at the very moment I questioned some of his stands on the issues -- and his reasons for changing them. That's the point. Did this "evolution" occur because of a legitimate change of heart -- or because of the prideful elixir of the adulation of the anointed? How did the ultra-conservative Eric Massa become the "left liberal" (this is an On the Issues classification) Eric Massa? And why would the simple challenge to discuss these topics suddenly render a 30-year friendship invalid?

All I can surmise is that the adulation of man and the promise of money and power are alluring motivators to someone who begins to believe they are more "enlightened" than those they claim to serve. This video seems to suggest that this is the case here. For what it's worth, this tendency saddens me for my country -- and more painfully, for the man who used to call me his friend.


  1. Bob, I love reading your blog. You do an awesome job of presenting the facts! Thanks brother. Keep up the great work.

  2. Bob, this is excellent. I believe that you hit the nail on the head in the last paragraph.


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