Senator Barney Frank?

With it looking like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts is going to leaving the Senate in order to become the new Secretary of State for the 2nd Obama administration, recently-retired Congressman Barney Frank is openly expressing interest in the job, with a number of progressive groups strongly supporting the move.

For the progressive/liberal wing of the Democratic party, already strong in places like Massachussetts, this would be a very smart move. Although the job would apparently only be for an interim of 3 months, it would certainly help energize the progressive base. Frank claims he wouldn’t want the job longer than that, although it would surprise me if he could not easily win a general election in Massachusetts if he wanted to. There’d be no doubting he’s got the experience and that his values are in line with most voters in his state. And since he’s only 73 years old this year, he’s certainly got more productive years ahead of him if he wants to, most likely.

There’s a nice bonus to all this for the new Junior Senator from Massachusetts too; Elizabeth Warren, sworn in for her first term as a Senator just a week or so ago, will vault from Junior to Senior Senator from her state after only a few weeks in office if Kerry does indeed leave (which he probably will). Interestingly enough, she’s already hired Barney Frank’s former chief of staff, and having Frank himself on the floor with her would probably give her a leg up very quickly in learning how to work with the Congress, even if Frank only stayed there for a few months as the Junior Senator. That said, the two would probably make a formidable pair for the state if Frank stayed on for longer.

I’m certain conservative Republicans are looking on all this with disgust, but then, they’ve got their own heroes and interesting people to look at; Texas’ new Senator Cruz, a Cuban-American, is already making waves. It feels like this election year, in a lot of ways, the Congress is changing. Of course, it is the Great American Tradition to hate the Congress, and it would be surprising to see a leadership change any time soon, but in the Senate at least, it appears we have a growing number of young mavericks, with a new generation of post-Baby Boomers slowly taking the reins. As a post-Boomer “Generation X” person in my 40s, I’m glad to see that happening. A new generation is coming in, and I’m glad of it.

In any case, a Senator Barney Frank, even if only a few months, should be an entertaining spectacle, as the old warhorse from the House comes in and, not feeling like he’s got anything to lose, says what he really thinks while advising Massachusetts’ brash new young Senator on how to learn the ropes. I don’t think a freshman Senator could be in a better position than Warren’s in right now: fresh from an exciting victory while running a brashed, unabashed liberal progressive campaign and winning, vaulting almost straight to Senior Senator, and with the advise and help of very seasoned Washington insiders to help learn the ropes quickly. I predict Senator Warren is going to be formidable once she gets her feet under her, and that this won’t take long at all, especially if she has someone like Frank to act as a temporary lightning rod for her.

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  • Scott

    Mr. Frank needs to locked up in prison or be hanging dead from a tree. As the main architect of the 2008 financial crisis (through his ignoring and boosting the CRA, the main factor in the collapse) he shouldn’t be breathing air as a free man.

    And he wouldn’t be if he weren’t a Democrat.

  • Scott

    Fact, the CRA did lead to risky lending and the recession:

  • Dean Esmay

    Scott, if you imply you want to see the lynching of a current or former member of the United States government on this site again, I’m going to ask you to leave and never come back.

    That goes for anyone else who talks like that. What you’re talking isn’t just batshit insanity, it’s fucking treason. Treason and treachery most foul. You are not required to like our elected officials but you damn well should respect your country enough to behave better than that.

  • Scott

    Well, Dean,

    I never said I wanted to actually do that. It’s just that that happening to him would fulfill justice for all the millions of people he hurt.

    And even if I did mean to imply murdering him, which I didn’t, that’s not treason. You seem to like flinging that word around without quite knowing what it means.

    So I’m sorry if you read that into my statement, but I would never think about harming another person save in self defense.

  • Scott


    What mr. Frank did is much more likely to be treason than what I wrote.

  • Dean Esmay

    Killing elected officials is treason in my book. In any case, I assumed you were just using excess rhetoric there and didn’t literally mean it, but still. If Barney Frank intentionally screwed up our financial system with evil motives, he should be held accountable for it, but that kind of over the top rhetoric makes me lose even curiosity in looking. Just as a piece of rhetorical advice to you.

    Besides, I never ascribe to venality what is sufficiently explained by stupidity. As Mark Twain once quipped: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” 😉

  • Classically Liberal Dave

    I can’t think of any one person more to blame for the housing bubble than Barney Frank. Still there is a lot of blame to go around, and it would be unfair to single him out.

  • John Eddy

    Chris Dodd is right up there (and the irony that the bill to ‘fix’ financial regulation is named Dodd-Frank is so thick it makes the smog in Beijing look like a clear spring morning). Frank’s main ‘crime’ was his steadfast resistance to any and all attempts by G.W. Bush and the Republicans to force more oversight upon Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all while those two entities were spinning out of control. The crime of this would be that I doubt he disagreed there was a problem, he just didn’t want Republicans in general and Bush in particular to have any hand in straightening it out.

    He is considered by many progressives to be an intelligent man and devastating orator, but I’ve always considered him a buffoon at best.

  • Classically Liberal Dave

    John, I agree completely with your mention of Chris Dodd as another very responsible person. Although Dodd and Frank bear a great deal of the responsibility, I think the law would have to be stretched to a point I am uncomfortable with for them to be charged with a criminal act.

  • John Eddy


    Hence the use of ‘crime’ rather than crime ;). At worst malfeasance, at best misfeasance?

  • BobCutlass

    Dean –

    Seeing posts like this on your blog, I get this funny feeling that you are operating on some kind of meta-level, you know, just messing with your readers. Sort of like trolling, or stirring stuff up for kicks.

    I mean, you’re not out of the loop on the Barney Frank thing, like some kind of Chris Matthews-style Obamaphile that just skims the surface of the mainstream news and left-wing blogs, right?

    In fact, all of the details on Barney Frank’s responsibility for the 2008 crisis came out when you were still reading or even among right-wing blogs, right? You can’t like totally plead ignorance on this.

    And I see the carefully phrased post with all of this weird triumphalism about old warhorse aids formidable brilliant junior senator (who pretended to be an ethnic minority in order to help her academic career) and I get this funny feeling you’re just trying to tweak the more right-leaning readers.

    You know, like press our buttons or something. And I get the sense you are deflecting on this issue in the comments.

    Or do you sincerely believe that Barney Frank got a bad rap? Is this part of some kind of Occupy-style anti-corporate ideology that you’ve adopted, that makes the 2008 financial crisis all the fault of “banksters?” or something?

    You know, greedy, hook-nosed “banksters?” Who secretly run the world?

    Lot of people lost their jobs in that one, Dean. A lot of able-bodied men and women still unemployed. Chronically, long-term unemployed. People lost their homes and stuff. So it’s kind of serious.

    Just checking…