Congressman gets naked dressing down in shower
Published 10/03/2010 | 05:00
President Barack Obama's troubled effort to reform the US health industry took a bizarre twist yesterday after a Democrat congressman said that he was lambasted over the issue by a naked Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, in a men's changing room.
The image of a bare Mr Emanuel poking the congressman Eric Massa in the chest because of his failure to support Mr Obama's healthcare Bill was seized upon by conservative talk radio presenters.
Even Rush Limbaugh, who vilifies Democrats on a daily basis, has invited the liberal Mr Massa on to his show.
Mr Massa announced on Friday that he was resigning because his cancer had returned.
By Sunday, however, he had changed his story, claiming that he was forced out -- the House ethics committee is investigating allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer -- by a Democrat conspiracy. The allegations against Mr Emanuel were described by the White House as "ridiculous". Mr Massa said: "I am showering, naked as a jailbird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped round his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn't going to vote for the president's budget. Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?"
Mr Obama has ordered his senior advisers to end an increasingly bitter internal row over who is to blame for his troubled first year.
Aides have been told to stop the "finger-pointing and intrigue" amid recriminations over where things have gone wrong at the White House.
Mr Emanuel is believed to have apologised to Mr Obama for a string of articles that have appeared in newspapers suggesting the failures were largely due to the president ignoring his advice.
The in-fighting comes after an election campaign in which Mr Obama's team was strikingly well-disciplined and united. Factions have since developed, with the centrist Mr Emanuel, the combative former Chicago congressman, being pitted against the more idealistic David Axelrod, who was the campaign chief strategist.
The row has highlighted Mr Emanuel's notoriously aggressive tactics, which have made him enemies. (© The Times, London)