Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The one-liner art of Barney Frank

Golly, I’m going to miss Barney Frank, who announced Monday that he would retire at the end of his current term in 2013 after represesenting Massachusetts’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1981.

Frank, described in the title of a 2009 biography as “America’s only gay, left-handed, Jewish congressman,” was consistently liberal, smart and feisty --- and darned good at one-liners, too. In politics, notably on civil rights issues, he was the perfect progressive storm.

Upon learning of his impending retirement, the Tennessee Tea Party tweeted, “Good riddance you perverted sodomite POS (piece of shit)!!” --- golly, again. But that’s the sort of statement Frank was good at deflecting with wit rather than in kind.

When Dick Armey, at the time Republican House majority leader, referred in 1995 to Frank as “Barney Fag,” then dismissed it as a mere slip of the tongue, the Massachusetts congressman responded, "I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag."

Hilary Rosen cited a few of her favorite Barney quips in a Monday Huffington Post column:

"Gay people have a different role than other minority groups... Very few black kids have ever had to worry about telling their parents that they were black"

"They're (congressional opponents) saying that my ability to marry another man somehow jeopardizes heterosexual marriage. Then they go out and cheat on their wives."

"The problem with the war in Iraq is not so much the intelligence as the stupidity."

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?" (in response to a critic at a recent healthcare town hall meeting who had declared “Obamacare” to be “Nazi”). He then went on to suggest that continuing their discussion would be as useful as trying to carry on a conversation with a dining room table.

Here’s a clip from taken from Monday’s press conference as Frank discussed the impact of his 1987 coming out:

Frank also had a few choice words Monday for Newt Gingrich, who picked up a major endorsement in New Hampshire over the weekend.

“I did not think I lived a good enough life to see Newt Gingrich as the Republican nominee,” Frank said. “He would be the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater ... It’s still unlikely, but I have hopes.”

The Frank-Gingrich feud goes back a long way. Frank previously has described Gingrich as, “a man with no ethical core whatsoever” and “the thinnest-skinned character assassin I’ve ever met.”

Maybe most appropriate for today, however, may be a line related to Frank’s assertion that he was unable to finish reviewing the Starr Report, detailing Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, because it involved “too much reading about heterosexual sex.”

And here we go again with all that as allegations emerge about a 13-year extra-marital relationship involving Herman Cain, once the darling of Iowa’s increasingly irrelevant Christianist Republican Party.

Cain seems to be acknowledging the accuracy of the allegations, or at least that’s what a statement from his lawyer suggests, building on the fact new revelations involve neither alleged harassment or assault.

“No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life,” according to the Cain camp.

Famous last words? This philosophy worked fairly well for one notable Democrat adulterer, Bill Clinton, but not especially well for another, pretty boy John Edwards.

Iowa Republicans seem prepared to forgive Newt Gingrich for his serial adulteries, citing a precedent set by Jesus. It’s not clear that falling to his knees will work quite so well for Cain this time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bill Smith here. Please identify the source of the remark by Gingrich in your last paragraph.