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
Did you know the Founding Fathers believed that Congress, being comprised of lawmakers from throughout the country, would play a key role in American government by making important decisions for the common good? It's true!
The Colbert Report airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30/10:30c.
Tags: Barney Frank, House of Representatives, Joe Barton, Republicans, Senate, Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, Video
Barney Frank has always been a pretty singular guy. He's one of the only members of the House of Representatives that many people have heard of, for one thing. He's also among the few openly gay congresspeople in U.S. history. A member of the rather exclusive Democrats with Functioning Backbones club. Not to mention, one of an incredibly small subset of American politicians who are totally cool with picking his nose on national television.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I report that at 1 pm today, 71-year-old 16-term Rep. Barney Frank will announce to his constituents in Massachusetts's 4th congressional district and the entire nation that he will not be seeking re-election in 2012…
A close adviser told the Globe today that the new district in which Frank would have had to run next year was a major factor in his decision. While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was revised to encompass more conservative towns while Frank also lost New Bedford, a blue-collar city where had invested a lot of time and become a leading figure in the region’s fisheries debate…
The announcement comes a week after Governor Deval Patrick signed a law creating the new state congressional districts. Another Democrat in the delegation, US Representative John Olver, announced in October that he would not seek reelection next year amid the specter of being forced into a showdown with US Representative Richard E. Neal of Springfield.
As much as the people in his old district, as well as members of his congressional caucus, will surely be sad to see him go, I'm sure no one blames him for his decision. No veteran U.S. politician should ever have to campaign for his seat.
Such exertions are simply not becoming for the ruling class.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Barney Frank, House of Representatives, Massachusetts
The day is August 18th, 2009. The country has been overtaken by a virulent strain of Town Hall Fever. All across the nation, otherwise polite and mild-mannered citizens are descending like zombies upon congressional district town hall meetings intent on yelling and screaming and disrupting proceedings. All for… some end or other. Who knows? The rationale is somewhat inscrutable.
But tonight, in this small hall in Massachusetts's 4th district, snark history is about to be made. Rachel Brown — a young political devotee of left-wing extremist Lyndon LaRouche — waits in a queue of people, photo of President Obama with a Hitler mustache in hand, for her chance to speak to her representative, outspoken House veteran Barney Frank. The line moves. It moves again. She's getting closer. And closer. Finally, the microphone is just before her quivering lips.
"Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy as Obama has expressly supported this policy?" she manages to get out before Rep. Frank interrupts.
"When you ask me that question, I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank says. "You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis… 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."
Wild applause from the room. The internet is in no time resplendent with dining room table jokes. Frank later agrees to an hour-long public conversation with said dining room table.
Tags: Barney Frank, House of Representatives, Lyndon Larouche, Massachusetts, Nazis, Rachel Brown, Snark Week
Some dining room table from CNS News, fishing for an embarrassing quote about the repeal of DADT drops a "gotcha" question on openly gay and outspoken Rep. Barney Frank, with predictably entertaining results…
Tags: Barney Frank, DADT, House of Representatives, LGBT, Military