• Why Did You Make Barney Frank Retire?

    Yesterday's announcement of Barney Frank's retirement from the House of Representatives upon the conclusion of his current (16th!) term in office, sparked speculation over what precipitated the congressman's decision.

    Redistricting may have played a role: Frank's present district awarded Barack Obama 63% of the vote, while only…61% of the newly constituted district voted for Obama. Did you people seriously expect a leading liberal to fight for re-election in that kind of hostile, Bible Belt-ish, rock-ribbed conservative territory?

    But the people's betrayal of Frank runs deeper than forcing him to run a district with a few less Democrats…

    Frank also leaves the House with a stark conclusion about the political system: The people won’t let Congress do its work.

    "To my disappointment, the leverage you have within the government has substantially diminished," Frank said. "The anger in the country, the currents of opinion are such that the kind of inside work I have felt best at is not going to be as productive in the foreseeable future and not until we make some changes."

    Seems like we've all failed Barney Frank. And now, thanks to our refusal to guarantee the man's re-election and grant him unfettered authority, we'll be bereft of classic Frank moments such as these:

    * At a town hall: "Madam, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

    * Explaining whether repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell means that gay men and straight men will now shower together: "We don’t get ourselves dry cleaned."

    * Explaining the need to shield government-backed enterprises from criticism:  "These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

    The latter is my favorite Barney Frank joke because the punchline came 7 years later, when unemployment was 9% and millions of homes were in foreclosure. That's commitment to comedy!

    Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Barney Frank, House of Representatives, Massachusetts


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