Barney Out: Sad. Congressman Retiring: Great

Barney Frank has announced that he’s retiring at the end of this term. He’ll be 72 when he goes, having served in Congress since 1981.

It’s tough to see Barney go, but when both the House and Senate are plagued with members who should have retired decades ago, I’m not going to mourn too much when someone who’s old enough to quit decides to buck the trend and make some room for a replacement.






64 replies
  1. 1
    Mary Jane says:

    Good for him if he wants to quit the circus and live out his life relatively peacefully. But what’s this age cutoff? Frank is exceptional at his job, more so than many half his age. IIRC, Pelosi is 71. Is it time for her to hang it up and make room for a younger person also?

  2. 2
    deep cap says:

    holy shit. I never thought he’d leave until he died from his blood turning into pure vitriol.

  3. 3
    Napoleon says:

    I like Barney. Not only is he usually on the good side of the issues but he is a real warrior for the left.

    Also thank God that unlike Kennedy he knows when to go. I think I read that his district either went for or nearly went for Scott Brown in the off year. So if he wants to see the Dems hold on to the seat the smart thing to do would be to leave in a Presidential election year. He will be (if he makes it) 76 the next one of those that roll around.

  4. 4
    Michael D. says:

    I like Barney too. I can always expect a laugh when I listen to him. But I agree. There are a LOT of Congresscritters, even some good ones, who’ve been around too long. I think the biggest problem with Congress is people get way too cozy – even people on our side.

    I’d like to see a complete turnover myself.

  5. 5
    geg6 says:

    I am in deep mourning over seeing Barney go. There is no other member of the House who is nearly as intentionally funny as he is. A true, true loss.

  6. 6
    GregB says:

    The man who coined the phrase:

    Republicans believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth.

  7. 7
    Tone In DC says:

    I won’t be happy to see Barney go if the same thing that happened to Edward Kennedy’s senate seat happens in Frank’s new district.

  8. 8
    eemom says:

    God, what a moronic attitude. “He’s old, so it’s good that he’s going — never mind the fact that he continues to excel at his job.” To make room for “someone new” who will likely have less than one-hundredth his level of effectiveness.

    What should the mandatory retirement age, be Mix? At what point should all people, regardless of who they are and what they do, officially become forced out to pasture?

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    Say it ain’t so!

    I feel like I’m losing a family member or friend.

    We’ll miss ya!

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Sorry to see him go, but no one is immortal, and he’s leaving strategically for the party…in a Presidential election year.

    He will be missed. I wish him a happy retirement away from the utter idiocy of Capitol Hill.

  11. 11
    eemom says:

    @Michael D.:

    So I take you embrace the wave of “fresh blood” teatards elected in 2010 who have effectively paralyzed the institution this past year.

    Shit. Did everyone double down on their stoopid pills this morning??

  12. 12
    David Fud says:

    @eemom: People should be pastured about a decade before their social security kicks in, of course. What other use would they have than to greet people at Wal-Mart part-time?

  13. 13
    Napoleon says:

    @Tone In DC:

    If they loose the district they loose the district. The Dems do not have a given right to hold the district. The problem with Kennedy was he clearly should have not run the last time so that it gave the Dems the best chance to win it.

    By leaving now Barney maximizes the chance that they hold the seat. That is all you can ask of the guy.

  14. 14
    Judas Escargot says:

    I lived in his district for most of the 90s, so I got to vote for him a few times.

    (Largely symbolic– the local GOP didn’t bother to run candidates against him most years).

  15. 15
    RossInDetroit says:

    This is a shame. I didn’t know he was that old. Maybe he’ll still be with us in some form or another, sharing truth the way only he has for so long. The Atlantic could use a new political pundit.

  16. 16
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @eemom: Completely agree with you here, I lived in Barney Frank’s district for years and was always very happy to vote for him. His absence will definitely be felt. Among other things he was good at, Frank was one of the few Democrats who could go on Fox and give as good as he got. There was a clip of O’Reilly bringing him on the show to sandbag him a few years back and Frank just destroyed him. He’s a brilliant man with a great sense of humor, and a very effective politician on top of that. I wish he could stay for longer, but if he wants to spend his old age away from the insanity of Congress I suppose I can’t really blame him for that. I just hope the Massachusetts Democrats can run someone decent in his district. They’ve got a terrible record when it comes to winning open seats.

  17. 17
    Feudalism Now! says:

    The timing is good to keep a dem seat during a pres election but a tough cost to bear. Frank has always been very good at summing up the brazen contradictions of his GOP colleagues. He will be missed.

  18. 18
    Napoleon says:

    @eemom:

    ???

    Your post makes no sense. Barney is leaving on his own. He is retiring. That is his choice. I have no intention to be working at my job at 72. Should others make that choice for me?

  19. 19
    pamelabrown says:

    I haz a sad.

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    Important for the future: who’s in the running to come after Barney Frank for the Democrats?

  21. 21
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    Dammit! Right after my family moved into his district!

  22. 22
    eemom says:

    @Napoleon:

    Of course anyone should retire when they want to.

    My issue is with the moronicity of celebrating the retirement — not because it’s what Frank wants and deserves — but because of some mindless, meaningless trope about “members who should have retired decades ago.”

    Also, who the hell are you to tell Ted Kennedy when he SHOULD have retired?

  23. 23
    daveNYC says:

    @eemom:

    What should the mandatory retirement age, be Mix? At what point should all people, regardless of who they are and what they do, officially become forced out to pasture?

    When their reading comprehension becomes as bad as yours?

  24. 24
    James L says:

    I have enjoyed Barney Frank’s verbal take-downs of the right and valued his contribution to liberalism. If he pivots to the lobbyist money train I will be profoundly disappointed. I hope if he continues to contribute it will be in a more respectable role.

  25. 25
    Loneoak says:

    I love Barney. I hope he gets a sweet gig on MSNBC or some such so we can keep enjoying his commentary. He might even be great on The Daily Show.

    Does anyone here think there is some weight behind the vitriol directed at him regarding Fannie and Freddie? The National Journal piece mistermix linked to has 6 comments, all claiming he must be retiring because law enforcement is closing in on proving corruption.

  26. 26
    Steve says:

    The logic of this post is sort of like “it would be sad if Albert Pujols left the Cardinals, but since they have several other players on the team that it would be nice to get rid of, I guess I won’t mourn his departure too much.” In other words it makes no fucking sense.

  27. 27
    bemused says:

    I really hate to see him go. Hopefully, he won’t retire from sight completely and make regular appearances on tv with his thoroughly enjoyable, pithy comments. I would so miss that.

  28. 28
    RalfW says:

    Slightly OT, but DIA has a post up about the lying Romney ad and near the bottom takes on Ken Rudin (NPR/TOTN) and the moronic fail parade known as false equivalency.

    Ken Rudin: Look at the campaign President Obama is running, running around the country saying how deceitful the Republicans are! So it’s going to be a dirty campaign, we know that.

    Good lord. We’d be well served to get Barney Frank a cable show. He’s smart and obnoxious, which is twice what Ken Rudin offers.

  29. 29
    Napoleon says:

    @eemom:

    He could retire any time he wants.

    It just so happens when he did resulted in coughing up a Senate seat which almost killed health care reform.

    But hey, it was his choice to make.

  30. 30
    some guy says:

    few Congressmen have ever served the financial interests of the 1% better, or more faithfully, than Barney Frank. making sure Glass-Steagall was never re-enacted a decade after he helped destroy it, pitching in to water down the Volker Rule, being “in the dark” as Bernanke fed trillions to the banks, Barney did his part cheerfully and with exuberance, keeping our overlords fat and happy.

    today’s Bloomberg story on the $7.7 trillion giveaway to the banksters is a fitting epithet to Frank’s career.

  31. 31
    RalfW says:

    @Napoleon:

    The problem with Kennedy was he clearly should have not run the last time so that it gave the Dems the best chance to win it.

    Well, that and the state Dems seem to have not been prepared to field a strong candidate. Kennedy was dying for months, and the best they could come up with in the special election was Coakley?

    ETA: I mean to say, with respect to Mr. Kennedy wanting to stay in the Senate to help vote ACA thru, that’s fine, but the state (and national) party should have been well prepared to deal with the obvious aging and failing health of a key leader.

  32. 32
    lol says:

    @Napoleon:

    What the fuck are you talking about? Kennedy *died*.

  33. 33

    @RalfW: A Republican putting out a flagrantly dishonest ad: perfectly fine. A Democrat calling him on it: dirty. Business as usual in the Village.

  34. 34
    feebog says:

    Of course Barney Frank has every right to determine when he retires. That should go without saying. But BF will be missed on the left. There are too few elected representatives who can consistently articulate their position with humour and wit.

    I will never forget the clip of Barney Frank at a townhall meeting during the health care bill debate. Other liberal congresspersons were struggling with Teatards taking over their townhall meetings. Not Barney. When a woman got up and started reeling off the usual Teatard talking points, Barney interrupted her, saying “Madam, arguing with you would be like arguing with a piano. Please sit down.”

  35. 35
    trollhattan says:

    Both I and my dining room table will be very sorry when Barney’s voice is no longer part of the debate. His value during this decade-long Republican putsch cannot be overstated.

  36. 36
    snoey says:

    I wasn’t going to be able to vote for him anyway since the district moved, but this still sucks.

    And for the record the dining room table was a LaRouchie, not a teabagger.

  37. 37
    eemom says:

    @Napoleon:

    the “almost killed health care reform” was because the Mass Dems chose to run the most godawful candidate they could find who fucking THREW AWAY what should have been a no-brainer victory.

  38. 38
    eemom says:

    @daveNYC:

    You are a well-documented idiot.

  39. 39
    Tone In DC says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Good question.

  40. 40
    Tone In DC says:

    @Napoleon:

    Who wins that seat matters. Another Scott Brown would be a debacle.

  41. 41
    Napoleon says:

    @RalfW:

    I agree. Kennedy could only control what he did.

    @lol:

    No shit, everyone knows that. He knew he was dying yet instead of retiring on his feet he did it in an oak box, thereby leaving the timing of his departure up to luck/chance/God.

  42. 42
    handsmile says:

    From my viewpoint, this is a deeply disappointing announcement. With Frank’s departure, progressives in this country will lose one of their most committed legislators. No matter who replaces him in Congress as representative for Massachusetts’ Fourth District, she/he will not possess Frank’s wit or verbal firepower, and Democrats will lose an influential and sagacious voice on financial matters. (The distortions and misrepresentations that litter some guy’s comment above #30 underscore both Frank’s value and the desperate need to caricature him.)

    This announcement must bring cheer to the national GOP which has long been nettled by Frank. Bay State-based readers of this blog may be able to counsel whether the state Democratic party has learned lessons from the Coakley/Brown debacle. Should Frank’s reconfigured congressional district not be held and Elizabeth Warren fail to unseat Brown in their Senate contest, progressive fortunes will be grievously wounded in the 2012 congressional elections.

  43. 43
    some guy says:

    Frank voted to dissolve Glass-Steagall in 1999.

    Frank made sure Kaptur’s bill to reinstate G-S (or any of the other similar bills) never came up for a vote in 2009.

    Frank worked his ass off to water down the Volker Rule.

    Dodd-Frank is a legacy of giveaways to the very thieves he so ably served for decades in the House.

    Progressive on everything except the big money boyz.

    call them misrepresentations all you want, but his actual legislative record is what it is.

    PS: Hank Paulson loved the guy, thought he was his kind of dealmaker. tells ya all you need to know about his “progressive” work on the House Financial Services Committee

  44. 44
    mistermix says:

    @eemom: Barney is showing a hell of a lot of class by retiring. I think he could have won re-election fairly easily, no matter the re-districting, but he’s going to do something else with the rest of his days. Unlike, say, Charlie Rangel. Does John Dingell really need to serve for more than half a century and remain in Congress at age 85? Louise Slaughter, who represents most of Rochester, is frankly a pretty un-energetic as far as local representation goes, but she’s keeping her seat well into her 80s in order to get back to head the Rules Committee. Those are the kinds of Representatives who should have quit a while back, IMO. Barney won’t be one of them, and good for him.

  45. 45
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Blute, or Torkildsen, is the last GOP rep from Massachusetts any of us will ever live to see. Confederate theocrats are the face of the Party, and that’s not going to fly.

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    @some guy: So he wasn’t pure enough for you, and now he’s retiring. Babble all you want here however.

  47. 47
    RP says:

    There’s a pretty gap between celebrating Franks’ retirement and thinking it’s the worst thing ever. I think MM was simply trying to look for the silver lining in what is otherwise sad news. That’s a good trait in my book.

  48. 48
    some guy says:

    @Yutsano:

    it’s not a question of purity, it’s a question of enabling thieves to rob the citizenry. but yes, let’s all clap for how brave and charming and witty Barney was, while thanks to his good work the economy is humming along with low unemployment and the banks have finally been reformed.

    clap louder

  49. 49
    JCJ says:

    @Napoleon
    Re: Kennedy – He had glioblastoma multiforme. It was ridiculous for him to run for reelection. As soon as he was diagnosed he and the party should have started making plans for the next election. It was fortunate that he was physically able to vote when ACA was being fillibustered.

  50. 50
    Mino says:

    We’re losing Charlie Gonzales and will probably get that idiot Ciro instead. We’re going backwards.

  51. 51
    eemom says:

    @JCJ:

    Kennedy last ran for re-election in 2006. He was diagnosed in 2008.

    And yes, “It was fortunate that he was physically able to vote when ACA was being fillibustered.”

    We’ve really reached a new low on this blog when people are attacking Kennedy for working as long as he could to make HCR a reality.

  52. 52
    Donut says:

    It’s tough to see Barney go, but when both the House and Senate are plagued with members who should have retired decades ago, I’m not going to mourn too much when someone who’s old enough to quit decides to buck the trend and make some room for a replacement.

    I am really trying to figure out WTF in this single sentence is truly worth getting pissed about. My read on what mistermix is saying is, it’s too bad to see a quality House member go, but good on Barney for exiting when he’s done and feels he can no longer retain the same efficacy at his job.

    The point has nothing to do with age, other than Barney is, surprise, of an age when lots of people normally think about retiring.

    Where the fvck does mistermix say everyone over a certain age has to go?

    The point is kind of obvious to me: Too many elected officials hang around just because they can, for ego-driven reasons. Someone who just shows up and votes “the correct way” isn’t good enough – at least, that’s what I believe. Shouldn’t we applaud Barney for making a good call, then? He’s ready to hang up his legislating hat, leaving on his own terms, and he gave the MA Democratic Party plenty of time to field a replacement and ramp that person up.

    Fukkin A.

  53. 53
    handsmile says:

    @some guy:

    Frank voted to dissolve Glass-Steagall in 1999.

    This is the single verifiable statement you have made about Frank’s legislative record. Yet according to the website, govtrack, an archive of all U.S. congressional votes, Frank voted ‘NO” on both the Financial Services Act of 1999 (the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill to repeal Glass-Steagall) and the Senate-House Conference Report on the Act. (see votes cast on July 1 and November 4 respectively):
    http://www.govtrack.us/congres.....son=400140

    If you have a link to refute this information, please provide it.

  54. 54
    SFAW says:

    eemom –

    Stop trying to talk sense to dimwits. They don’t get it, and you’ll just get more frustrated.

    Re: Barney: even if a Dem wins his seat, Frank will be extremely tough to replace. And his age is a non-issue. 72? Is that all? I know 85-year-olds who are sharper than a lot of my contemporaries.

    But to balance things out, i.e. to ensure the collective IQ of the House doesn’t drop any further, perhaps there should be a House Rule that the Rethugs have to get rid of their stupidest member to counteract the loss of Barney. Unfortunately for the Rethugs, there are about 50 of them that qualify for the designation “stupidest”. Seems like a fair trade to me.

  55. 55
    Everyone in the Pool says:

    @eemom

    We’ve really reached a new low on this blog

    And you’ve been leading the way. Congrats.

  56. 56
    OzoneR says:

    @Tone In DC:

    I won’t be happy to see Barney go if the same thing that happened to Edward Kennedy’s senate seat happens in Frank’s new district.

    If Dems can’t hold a district that went 60% for Obama, then the really suck in Massachusetts.

    Liz Warren is going to be on the ballot, if that doesn’t turn out Democrats in Newton and Brookline, then I don’t know what will.

  57. 57
    RP says:

    Re: Barney: even if a Dem wins his seat, Frank will be extremely tough to replace. And his age is a non-issue. 72? Is that all? I know 85-year-olds who are sharper than a lot of my contemporaries.

    I don’t understand the point of comments like this. He decided to retire — no one is forcing him out. If you think he’s too young to retire and needs to stay in the House, take it up with him.

  58. 58
    MikeJake says:

    But term limits are a bad idea because of all the valuable wisdom that gets pushed out the door, right?

  59. 59
    William Hurley says:

    Frank’s announcement is an important historical marker. Having been a volunteer on several of his campaigns, his decision invokes a swell of emotions joyous and lamentful.

    Frank’s early career, prior to becoming an elected official himself, is still legendary in Boston – where political legends and legendary politicians of the past are found in abundance. His work in the House extends his status from the “Hub of the Universe” to the heart of the nation itself.

  60. 60
    Amir Khalid says:

    32 years is a long career in politics. I would not begrudge anyone the right to step down after that many years, especially a politician who had served with distinction according to the consensus here.

  61. 61
    Don says:

    but when both the House and Senate are plagued with members who should have retired decades ago, I’m not going to mourn too much when someone who’s old enough to quit decides to buck the trend and make some room for a replacement.

    Those people are bozos because they were always bozos, not because they’re older. Similarly, the problem with entrenched long-term politicians isn’t their long terms it’s the fact that economics make it unreasonably hard to replace them with better.

    Having long-serving folks is a plus when they’re competent, regardless of their age. It’s not like the job of Congresscritter is physically demanding and requires youthful vigor.

    None of what I say there should be taken to indicate I support Byrd-type eternal occupation. Frank is clearly still spry and has his wits about him; someone who can barely make it in to vote is another matter.

  62. 62
    SFAW says:

    I don’t understand the point of comments like this. He decided to retire—no one is forcing him out. If you think he’s too young to retire and needs to stay in the House, take it up with him.

    The point is that some of the geniuses here are big with the “he’s been there TOO LONG” and “he’s TOO OLD” variants. I don’t think 72 is necessarily all that old, although I’ve known some “old” 40-year-olds.

    How does my comment become “he’s getting forced out”? Was there some coded phrasing that I overlooked?

  63. 63
    eemom says:

    @Everyone in the Pool:

    Who the fuck are you?

    Do us all a favor — hit the bottom of that pool and stay there.

  64. 64
    mclaren says:

    As one of the sanest and smartest and most encyclopedically knowledgable congressmen of the last 30 years, he’s going to leave a very big gap.

    His age is a non-issue, given his mental acuity. With politicians whose careers consisted of co-starring with chimps, like Ronald Reagan, age becomes a real concern. Research studies show that people who don’t remain mentally active are vastly more at risk for early senility people who keeps their minds sharp doing serious intellectual work, like Barney Frank.

    As politics has become increasingly more venomous, people of the excellence of Barney Frank have grown increasingly rare in the congress. That’s a real issue. So it’s not clear why mistermix isn’t concerned about it.

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