Said The One of his retirement, “This country has never had a congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him.” True enough. Of all the losers to have passed through Congress, how many can say they played a major role in precipitating a global economic catastrophe? It’ll take a lot of media whitewash to obscure that legacy, but I’m sure they’re game: The ratio of political eulogies today that mention his wit and intellect to those flagging his boosterism for Fannie and Freddie is running about five to one from what I’ve seen. As Ted Kennedy’s career so beautifully illustrates, if you’re a sharp-tongued fightin’ liberal from deep blue Massachusetts, there’s no wrong so terrible that it can’t be forgiven. Carte blanche, Elizabeth Warren.
The clip’s noteworthy mainly for its candor. Redistricting really was the reason he decided to quit — not because he was doomed to lose next year but because he would have had to exert a bit of effort to win, which must have come as a nasty shock after enjoying a liberal sinecure for the past 30 years. Read Sean Trende’s short, incisive take at RCP. The new map squeezes many more conservative voters into Frank’s district; in its new configuration, it would have broken for Scott Brown last year by fully 10 points. That’s not to say Frank couldn’t win — he beat Sean Bielat by double digits in 2010 when tea partiers were painting the rest of the country red — but he would have had to hit the trail, fundraise, and cope with the petty annoyances of retail politics that most congressmen take for granted. And who wants to do that when Congress is apt to become redder in the short-term, especially in the Senate? Better to go teach, lobby, and/or become a regular MSNBC contributor/host. The good news is we’re finally rid of him. The bad news is it could be worse.
Exit question: You know what would be awesome? If we gave Barney Frank more authority over housing policy.