Representative Barney Frank, liberal curmudgeon from Massachusetts, announced today that he is not going to run for another term in 2012, thus ending a 30 year run as a member of Congress. My Facebook page lit up with mostly cheers of good riddance from conservatives who simply hate the guy.
I have met and talked with Barney Frank a number of times over the years and can report that he is not a warm and fuzzy guy who believes that politicians should be back slappers anxious to make friends. No Barney is an arrogant, no nonesense, outspoken scold who does not suffer fools easily. He’s in Congress not to bring the pork home, but to drive the Republicans crazy with his speeches from the floor and his talk show indictments of the right-wing.
Thirty years in the House is a long time and Barney probably got sick and tired of the constant pitched battles and the endless gridlock. He is not alone in getting out. In the last four years scores of representatives and seantors from both parties have gotten out of town to make more money and not have people yell at them and even threaten them after they cast their vote. Being a member of Congress is just not what it used to be.
If you are a liberal, Barney will be sorely missed in Washington. As the ranking minority member of the committee that overseas the banking industry, Frank was a constant thorn in the side of the big money guys and pushed vigorously for reforms that would rein in the excesses in an industry that brought us the great meltdown.
If you are a conservative, Frank’s departure is a welcome move since he has often been seen as the guy who caused the housing bubble and was blind to the excesses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To the right -wing Frank symbolizes all that is wrong with big government.
But whether you adored or hated Barney Frank he was always entertaining because he could talk a dog off a meat truck and make his Republican opponents squirm in their seats. Frank is someone the liberals desperately need – a guy who is smart, cantankerous and fearless.
Thanks for the memories Barney, you made politics in Washington interesting.