Of all the gifts Eric Massa has given the world this week, the most entertaining has to be his story about a naked Rahm Emanuel confronting him in the congressional gym showers (close second: tickle fights!). “I’m sitting there showering,” Massa recalled on the radio Monday, “naked as a jaybird and here comes Rahm Emanuel not even with a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn’t going to vote for the president’s budget.” Since most people don’t discuss business with their colleagues while their penises are within touching distance of each other, this seemed like an odd situation. And though the Washington Post runs a story today with the headline “Lawmakers insist shower run-ins like the one Massa alleges are far from norm,” the content of the article gives a different impression.
Of the four senators asked about shower talk in story, one said he didn’t “accost people” in the shower, one simply mentioned that he liked hanging out in the sauna with his Senate buddies, one was pulled away by an aide before he could answer, and one refused to “discuss [her] showering habits.” It’s as if they’re being asked about Skull and Bones or something.
Meanwhile, Congressman Patrick Kennedy said that, in the gym, members of Congress’s “[inhibitions] are gone in addition to their clothes.” And MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former congressman, said that “[w]ay too many middle-aged, overweight men walk around that locker room without any clothes on.” So, the Post’s headline notwithstanding, it actually seems like a good amount of behind-the-scenes interactions between congressmen are done with their saggy, time-worn bodies in full view. We don’t know if this makes negotiations easier, because of what Kennedy said, or harder, because everyone is focusing all their energy on maintaining eye contact.