A governor looking to make a temporary appointment certainly wants someone who will be enthusiastic about a thankless job — caretaking a Senate seat for a period of time so short that it’s likely not to matter much. At a certain point, though, enthusiasm morphs from a virtue to a kind of weird, embarrassing, and unseemly display. If Barney Frank’s pursuit of John Kerry’s open Senate seat hasn’t yet become the latter, he’s at least well on the way to the destination. At first content to simply place a call to Deval Patrick requesting consideration and admitting it on Morning Joe last week, Frank is now on a media tour to secure the appointment before Patrick has a chance to decide otherwise:
Frank had previously said it would be “presumptuous” to comment on a job that hasn’t been offered when asked whether he would want the interim Senate seat that will open up if Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state. But soon after, Frank revealed on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he had told Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick he wanted the job.
“Previously, I was facing a situation in which the first few months of the year, as they often are, would not be very important in terms of legislation, and it would have been more ceremonial than substantive. I’m not a big ceremony guy,” Frank told POLITICO in an interview Tuesday.
The former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee explained that he placed the call to Patrick just days after the fiscal cliff vote, having decided that the first months of 2013 would be “very important in terms of legislation.”
“I do think, immodestly, that given the important decision that will be made about these complicated questions, in February, March and April, I’m very well-qualified because I don’t know of anybody else who’s been doing these things so continuously who’s ready to jump in,” he said.
That’s probably true … but perhaps becoming increasingly irrelevant. Frank insists that he has no further political ambitions, and all but endorsed Ed Markey in the special election primary. “I think Ed Markey and I are kind of a relay team on this,” Frank told Politico, although that wasn’t how Markey saw it, according to the Boston Globe this weekend:
Governor Deval Patrick wasn’t the only one shaken by former Representative Barney Frank’s very public declaration on Friday that he’d like to serve as interim senator if John F. Kerry resigns to serve as secretary of state.
A former colleague, Representative Edward J. Markey, was rankled by the prospect, friends say, in part because of the inevitable poll that would gauge Frank’s popularity as senator. A high approval rating for Frank could overshadow Markey’s candidacy in the special election campaign that would be needed to fill the seat permanently.
Markey denied feeling “rankled” in a statement to the Globe, but he also didn’t endorse Frank for the interim appointment, either.
Frank’s full-court press on the appointment came after a Saturday comment from one of Patrick’s advisers, Doug Rubin. Rubin seemingly dismissed Frank as an establishment figure who was part of the problem in Washington DC, and not part of the solution:
On Saturday, though, Patrick’s political consigliere, Doug Rubin, very publicly raised doubts about Frank ever getting the appointment. “I respect Cong. Frank and what he has accomplished, but there are better options for MA Senate interim appointment,” Rubin said on his Twitter account. …
“The theory that we have to send experienced people to Washington to break the gridlock; the experienced people are the ones creating the gridlock,” said Rubin.
He added: “If we get beyond the traditional names, there are a lot of smart, talented individuals from Massachusetts who could bring some fresh ideas and energy to Washington, and that’s what we sorely need.”
Yeah, but … for just three or four months? What kind of gridlock-breaking will a rookie do in that period of time, especially one that won’t be coming back after the spring? If that’s the kind of advice that Patrick gets from his “consigliere,” he’d better look for a wartime consigliere when it comes time to run for President.
Frank is probably the best Patrick can do for such a limited assignment, but he’d better choose quickly before Frank talks himself out of the job.