Sunday, December 14, 2008

Barney Frank: The Smartest Man in Congress

Barney Frank (D-MA) has long been one of my favorite members of Congress. He's a character, no doubt. Yeah, yeah, he's gay, and there was that whole bit of scandal more than a decade ago -- who gives a crap? Actually, he is an eloquent and sincere advocate for gay rights, and has done much to change a lot of otherwise rigid minds. Most importantly, he's quick-witted, he's anti-social and impatient -- he doesn't suffer fools even a little bit -- and he's smart as hell. In fact, he is often called "The Smartest Man in Congress," and it's a moniker that fits.

Back in 1995, after Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution," it was Frank that the shell-shocked Democratic Leadership, now in the minority for the first time in 40 years, sent to the floor to bedevil the new Republican Leadership -- and bedevil he did. Frank knows legislative procedure, is fast on his feet when it comes to House debates, and made Newt and Company's life pure hell as they settled into figuring out how to lead. Frank challenged and disagreed at every opportunity, turning the House floor into a chaotic jumble those first few months until newly-minted Speaker Gingrich got his leadership sea legs. It was a beautiful thing -- to watch Frank literally make his Republican colleagues sputter in impotent frustration at his antics -- something the other side of the aisle still does to this day, although there is muted respect for his leadership and keen intellect as well.

This Sunday, 60 Minutes did a great piece on Frank and his enormous role in getting us through out current quagmires -- as House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank oversees Wall Street and housing issues. He also has a hand in the auto bailout discussion. Yeah, he's been a bit busy in the last several months -- and as far as I'm concerned, I'm just glad we've got Frank at the helm. He's unabashedly liberal, but he's got a pragmatic bent that gets things done -- my kinda guy. Take a listen to the interview, and you'll get just a flavor of why Rep. Barney Frank is one of my favorite members of Congress.

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