Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This Charming Man: Barney Frank Retires

Barney Frank has announced his retirement after 30 years in Congress, the last 10 of which were spent at the nexus of the housing bubble and the Crash of '08. He will not be missed
Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts says he does not intend to seek re-election in 2012. 
Frank spoke Monday at a news conference in his hometown of Newton 
Frank said he originally intended to run for one more term, but that his decision was partially due to the fact that the state's new redistricting map will include many people he has never represented before. 
Frank said he has had a "busy and stressful" four years dealing with financial reform after the recession. 
He says he plans to write and stay involved in public policy decisions. 
The 71-year-old Frank, and a lifelong liberal, won a House seat in 1980 was one of the first lawmakers to announce that he is gay.
All very true. Frank was a very bright man who was more than willing to mix it up in hostile fora like the O'Reilly Factor. Like Ted Kennedy, you always knew that Frank would be out there, every day, kicking ass for progressive causes. That doesn't  mean we should be strewing his path with roses or anything, but it is something to note.

Of course, Frank's persistence in public life, despite the well known peccadilloes in his personal life, and his stubborn advocacy of disastrous social engineering in his public life, is a sign of something rotten in our politics. I think it's indisputable that a Republican with a record like Frank's would have been hounded from office long ago by the same news media that is sad to see Frank go. 

Not only that, a conservative equivalent to Frank - that is, a pugnacious advocate for right wing ideas with decades of experience legislating - simply doesn't exist. Conservative congressmen - not to mention conservative politicos in general - are either ignored or, if they become too prominent, see their lives turned upside down under a daily avalanche of insults and out-of-context headlines until life becomes intolerable for them. Frank once went on the O'Reilly Factor and got yelled at for helping foment the housing bubble. Frank has been b*tching about that ever since. Well, welcome to the club, pal. Our guys get treated like that everytime they appear on television. 

We're watching a perfect of example of this going down. Herman Cain is being effectively driven from the Republican presidential primary race due to accusations about his interactions with women. First there were vague allegations of harassment by some sketchy, if respectable looking, middle aged women. Now, there's an alleged affair with a sketchy middle aged woman. None of it quite adds up, Cain has denied all, yet somehow all of this is seen as untoward in the media, which has been gleefully reporting the latest Cain bimbo eruptions as if they are dispatches from The Somme. Yet the same media will embargo similar stories about liberal politicians. Conservatives get three months of Herman Cain, while liberals - and the rest of us - get three decades of Barney Frank. 

Frank didn't get the kid glove treatment because he was gay. (most of us could care less). He was left alone because he was left-wing, and thereby benefited from the progressive halo. As long as he was a man on the left, he had nothing to worry about. That is appalling, and a sign of how hard it is for the regular people in the United States to find and keep their advocates. 

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