Opinion Brief

Dick Cheney's military 'coup'

Disgraced former congressman Eric Massa sees "treason" in Cheney's alleged lobbying of Gen. David Petraeus to take on Obama in 2012

Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), who resigned in disgrace in March over male tickling and groping allegations, is back with a potential bombshell: Four top generals allegedly told him months ago that Dick Cheney is trying to recruit Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, to run against President Obama in 2012. That would be "treason" and a "coup d'etat," Massa told the editors of Esquire, because "you've got a commander with armies in the field, and he's plotting with Dick Cheney to bring down his commander in chief." Is Massa revealing a huge conspiracy, or just letting his "crazy" out? (Watch David Petraeus say he has no presidential ambitions in a 2007 interview)

Massa's story doesn't make sense: The Cheney "coup" story is certainly "the most fascinating" of the juicy "vignettes" in Esquire's must-read profile of Massa, says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. It's also "the craziest." Among other reasons to be suspicious of Massa's conspiracy theory: Any rational person would go to The Washington Post or The New York Times with a story like that, not Esquire."Eric Massa's latest episode"

If true, this is a big scandal: "Whether or not you believe that Gen. Petraeus is contemplating a treasonous coup d'etat," says Tim Heffernan in Esquire, Massa's right that the general would be breaking "unambiguous" Pentagon rules by beginning his run for president while still on active duty. It seems unlikely he'd violate a code he's "devoted his life to upholding.""Staging a coup? Petraeus isn't even running for President."

If Petraeus wants to run, it's his right: So he'd retire first, and there'd be "no big deal," says Alex Pareene in Salon. For what it's worth, Petraeus officially (but needlessly) denied Massa's "grand conspiracy." Massa does have some authority on military matters, but that just makes the profile as "heartbreaking" as it is confirmation that "Massa is a crazy person.""Eric Massa's imaginary military coup"

Crazy, but not impossible: Figuring out which of Massa's claims to believe can be "tricky," since he is, in fact, crazy, says Jason Easley in PoliticusUSA. "But Cheney is evil," so it's kind of a toss-up. "The coup part strikes me as a fantasy," but Cheney did usurp the Constitution by declaring himself his own branch of government, and he doesn't like any of the 2012 GOP contenders, so Massa could be half right."Crazy vs evil: Massa claims Cheney is plotting a coup against Obama"

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