Make the Offer Already, Gov. Patrick…

So now that both Ben Affleck and Ted Kennedy Jr. have declined the honor, I say it’s time for Barney Frank to be offered the interim Senate position (between Kerry’s confirmation as Secretary of State and the mandated special election five months later). Via Wonkette, from Politico:

Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank isn’t ruling out a short-term stint in the U.S. Senate, if President Barack Obama taps Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state.

If Kerry is nominated and confirmed to the job, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick would appoint a temporary senator to fill the seat until a special election is held next year. Frank, the liberal icon who’s retiring at the end of the year after more than three decades in the House, has said he would not run in a special election.

But in an interview with POLITICO Wednesday, the former House Financial Services Committee chairman said he wouldn’t necessarily say “no” to a short-term, caretaker appointment – not that anyone’s offering yet.

“The governor ought to be free to make whatever choices he makes. In Massachusetts, you’re talking about an interim, not a permanent appointment. I certainly would not take on any long-term appointment,” Frank said. “As for an interim thing, I think accepting offers that haven’t been made is kind of presumptuous.”…

Now, perhaps “the 72-year-old Newton Democrat says he is worn out and eager to begin a new chapter”, but he’s still capable of upholding the fine Commonwealth traditions of cherishing grudges and speaking bluntly (i.e., calling Scalia “just a flat out bigot“). Because this is a guy I’d like to see on the Senate floor, even if just for a few months:

… In the House, chatter routinely permeates the chamber when other members speak. But when Frank takes to the floor, a hush suddenly descends, said Representative Jim McGovern of Worcester.

“Republicans hate debating him because he makes them feel stupid, and he’s clear about it,” said McGovern. “Watching him perform on the House floor is like going to a Broadway show.”…

“This is a man who worked really hard and never let a detail slip by him,” said Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat and close friend whose house Frank is now living in. “There aren’t too many members who have the guts to say what’s on their minds whenever they want to say it, and who are factually accurate. But he deserves another stage in life.”…

“He’s put in his time. He looks forward to not having to report for floor duty and votes, but he’s not going to fold his tent up and disappear into the wilderness,” said Senator John Kerry.

89 replies
  1. 1
    nellcote says:

    Would the goopers tank Kerry just so they didn’t have to face Barney?

  2. 2
    James E Powell says:

    I can’t think of anyone better for an interim appointment.

  3. 3
    JasonF says:

    I can think of several people I know whose heads would explode at the thought of Senator Frank, which makes it worth hoping for solely on that basis.

  4. 4

    If you haven’t seen it, Lawrence O’Donnell’s segment about Charles Durning is well worth watching.

  5. 5

    Hmm, the edit of the last comment didn’t stick; Ezra Klein’s Maddow segment about Jack Klugman is also worth watching.

  6. 6
    Mary G says:

    I’d love to see Barney come up to speak after John McCain’s pulled one of his whiny hissy fits on the Senate floor and just verbally eviscerate the entire Republican contingent for a good long time on CSPAN 2.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Earl says:

    Patience. The governor is probably realizing that he’s sitting on a gold mine and he’s not gonna just give it away.

    I do love the idea of Senator Frank, though…

  9. 9
    Narcissus says:

    I don’t think he’d want it.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Chris T. says:

    @nellcote: The goopers would tank Kerry because Obama wants him. The possibility of a Sen Frank might be an added inducement, but is not required. Whatever Obama is for, they’re agin’.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    Just to shake things up, he could appoint Rachel Maddow. :)

    Massachusetts has a population of over 6*#189; million. Taking out those under 30 and non-Dems, that likely comes to somewhere around 2 million, give or take. Certainly must be some excellent possibilities in such a crowd.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    Corrected (premature posting-itis):

    Just to shake things up, he could appoint Rachel Maddow. :)

    Massachusetts has a population of over 6½ million. Taking out those under 30 and non-Dems, that likely comes to somewhere around 2 million, give or take. Certainly must be some excellent possibilities in such a crowd.

  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
    Schlemizel says:

    I love Barney Frank and would love to see him as the Senator, but he really doesn’t want to be more than a placeholder. Why bother? Is the Dem bench in MA so short that there really is nobody other than yet another Kennedy and Ben Aflak (quack)?

    How about thinking of the future just a tiny bit and picking some Dem that is worthy of the job and capable of holding next summer when the teatards try to pull another rabbit out of their ass like Brown?

  19. 19
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    “He’s put in his time. He looks forward to not having to report for floor duty and votes,

    FSM, if only some of the other old fucks in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body ™ would get that clue.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Why make it sound as though Deval Patrick considered offering and/or offered the position to Affleck and Kennedy?

  21. 21
    Raven says:

    @Schlemizel: because he is a patriot

  22. 22
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @nellcote: #1

    Would the goopers tank Kerry just so they didn’t have to face Barney?

    You have a point. Maybe the Gov should wait until after Kerry’s confirmation.

    And then go with Barney.

  23. 23

    Both Annie Laurie and Tom Levenson live in Massachusetts … either one would be a great choice. I can only imagine the conversation with Senators Inhofe and Chambliss. Oh, the places they would go!

  24. 24
    Lurking Canadian says:

    If you really want to see wingnut heads explode, appoint Chomsky.

  25. 25
    dr. bloor says:

    I love Barney, hate the idea of the interim appointment. Patrick has to put someone in that slot who will run as an incumbent for the regular election.

  26. 26
    Freemark says:

    @dr. bloor: Deval has already said he will appoint someone who promises NOT to run in the election.

  27. 27
    dr. bloor says:

    @Freemark: Hadn’t seen that. Unless he’s hiring a placeholder to keep the seat warm for himself, it’s a dumb move.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dr. bloor: IIRC he did the same thing when Kennedy died. It is not necessarily a self-interested measure. The impression I get is that he believes that the people should select their senator. This is a good thing.

  29. 29
    debbie says:

    The fits it would give McConnell would be priceless.

  30. 30
    dr. bloor says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: No, it really isn’t. Giving a Democrat the power of incumbency when running and allowing the people of MA to choose their senator aren’t mutually exclusive options.

  31. 31
    hep kitty says:

    I still can’t watch the news anymore.

  32. 32
    hep kitty says:

    The end of caring. 11 years is a long time.

  33. 33
    Greg says:

    If Frank won’t run, save us the money our town would pay to put on a special election and just anoint Brown senator-for-life.

  34. 34
    Lojasmo says:

    @Schlemizel:

    To be fair, Aflek is a raging liberal, would beat brown in a walk, and could self finance.

  35. 35
    NotMax says:

    Brown pretty much burned his bridges in the last election and is damaged goods.

    Would not be surprised to see one of the Romney offspring jump into the race for the election.

    And get trounced.

  36. 36
    dr. bloor says:

    @NotMax:

    Brown pretty much burned his bridges in the last election and is damaged goods

    His job approval rating was at 57% the day before the election, and whoever runs against him won’t have the national election to help boost turnout.

    Scott Brown remains a formidable candidate.

  37. 37
    Comrade Jake says:

    This is the Democratic party in Massachusetts we’re talking about. What could go wrong?

  38. 38
    Donut says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass:

    Saw that last night. Made me cry.

  39. 39
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @dr. bloor: Mass is a liberal state. They want to be noble and all. Here in Texas on the other hand, if a Congressman from Austin died, Perry would appoint the most conservative Republican he could just to see how much damage could be caused before he could be replaced.

  40. 40
    JPL says:

    @dr. bloor: Yesterday I read that Michelle and Bill Clinton plan on campaigning in MA for the nominee.

  41. 41
    Mark S. says:

    God, Ruth Marcus is a moron. She talks about CPI-E, which measures inflation for the elderly, and says the E stands for experimental. Maybe the WaPo could fire some of their goddamn awful op-ed columnists and hire a few fact-checkers.

  42. 42
    NotMax says:

    @dr. bloor

    Would like to see what his job approval ratings are on the day he leaves office.

    Should he run again, it will be as someone who lost handily and who left the opposition literally miles of videotape of ugly jabs and egregious whoppers.

    Coakley was an awful candidate who ran an even worse campaign, such as it was.

    Brown won’t face such a combination of complacency and ineptitude again. Bet on it.

  43. 43
    Donut says:

    @dr. bloor:

    I’m with you on the comment about Brown being formidable and that a quality politician will be needed to keep his ass out of the Senate again. But I’m not sure I agree it’s better for Patrick to king-make in this situation. Seems to me we need someone who can survive a primary brawl, and who isn’t a candidate simultaneous with being a DC greenhorn. Trying to be a freshman Senator and run a campaign at the same time is daunting, even for smart, high energy people.

    Also, too, self-determination and all that. It’s kinda owed to the voters. Right?

    Nope, I’d rather see actual MA Democrats, as a party, step up and pick from amongst themselves.

    Serious question: is Patrick shrewd enough and prescient enough to know exactly who the best option is to retain the seat? Is anyone able to gaze that far into the future?

  44. 44
    Paul in KY says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I don’t think so. I want the Democrat who runs to complete the term to have every advantage.

  45. 45
    dr. bloor says:

    @NotMax: Oh, I think the D candidate will have an edge, but assuming Brown is damaged goods, failing to appoint the presumptive candidate to fill the seat temporarily, and assuming that visits by national luminaries will rally the liberal turnout are precisely what got us Brown in the first place. The Democrats thought they could nominate a cadaver and win the seat after Kennedy died, so that’s exactly what they did, and they lost.

    Patrick treating this as a fucking civics lesson rather than a decision with very real consequences for the balance of the Senate in 2014 just grills my cheese.

  46. 46
    Paul in KY says:

    @dr. bloor: I agree.

    Edit: Also agree on #45 above :-)

  47. 47
    dr. bloor says:

    @Donut:

    Also, too, self-determination and all that. It’s kinda owed to the voters. Right?

    Again, all together now: Appointing the presumptive candidate and giving the people of MA the power to choose are Not. Mutually. Exclusive.

  48. 48
    John D. says:

    @Mark S.: It’s both, actually.

    From BLS:

    Experimental Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E)

  49. 49
    Donut says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Ok, but again, who is this presumptive candidate? I’m not hearing who this magic bullet is — and if Patrick knows who it is, why isn’t that person front and center, demanding the attention and hogging the spotlight?

  50. 50
    Donut says:

    @dr. bloor:

    WHO IS THE PRESUMPTIVE CANDIDATE?

  51. 51
    dr. bloor says:

    @Donut: The presumptive candidate is whoever doesn’t promise to walk away from the seat in 2014.

    This isn’t about Patrick overlooking the obvious choice. This is about giving one individual from a group of candidates, all of whom will have flaws to overcome in a general election, the advantage of the incumbency and an appealing voting record in the Senate to run on.

    IS THAT LOUD ENOUGH FOR YOU?

  52. 52
    Kropadope says:

    @dr. bloor

    You ever try to dislodge an incumbent Democrat in Massachusetts? I live here and I’m glad the appointee will not seek the permanent position. I’m also glad there’s no Senator Kirk or Coakley right now, Warren was worth the wait.

  53. 53
    dr. bloor says:

    @Kropadope:

    I’m also glad there’s no Senator Kirk or Coakley right now

    I’m no fan of Coakley, but she would have been kind of helpful as that 60th vote during the ACA dust-up, don’t you think?

    Worth the wait? Seriously?

  54. 54
    Donut says:

    Talk to me like I’m a simpleton, you get the same bullshit thrown back at you, asshole…that’s great. Thank you.

    You kept saying there is a presumptive candidate. That has a specific meaning. You are failing to identify that person pretty much makes your argument, such as it is, stupid, IMO.

    How the fuck does Patrick know who the fuck best candidate is going to be in 20-fucking-14, let alone when it’s time for the special election? Unless I’m missing something, identifying that person now seems kind of, you know, important to your point. All of the names I’ve seen floated except Frank would presumably want the job in 2014.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dr. bloor: Who is this presumptive candidate of whomever you speak? Also, Civics isn’t supposed to be some random shit you learn in 8th grade; it is supposed to be a description of how our government works. Isn’t it?

  56. 56
    rikyrah says:

    Barney…your country still needs you…

    come on…

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Fuck you autocorrect.

  58. 58
    handsmile says:

    We returned last night from visiting our respective families in Massachusetts. While no one amongst them is as politically plugged-in as the BJ commentariat, the names most often mentioned as likely Democratic candidates for Kerry’s (putatively) open Senate seat were current US congressmen Michael Capuano and Ed Markey.

    I’m somewhat familiar with Markey (who has served for many years) through his legislative work on environmental issues and telecommunications.

    Your thoughts, Bay Staters?

  59. 59
    dr. bloor says:

    @Donut:

    How the fuck does Patrick know who the fuck best candidate is going to be in 20-fucking-14, let alone when it’s time for the special election? Unless I’m missing something, identifying that person now seems kind of, you know, important to your point. All of the names I’ve seen floated except Frank would presumably want the job in 2014.

    Look, here’s my point: if there was an obvious, odds-on successor to the seat in 2014, then Patrick’s appointee right now wouldn’t be as important. We could send Barney off to the Senate to get in McConnell’s grille for a few years, enjoy the show, and then elect Senator Obvious (D-MA) in 2014.

    The precise problem is that all of the usual D suspects for 2014 are polling behind Brown right now, and that’s mostly because they all have issues/elements that make you think “meh” when you hear their names. It’s early, obviously, but they’re losing. Patrick appointing one of them–any one of them–raises their profile, gives Patrick and Reid a couple of years to talk about how they’re the Greatest Senator Since Sliced Bread, and allows them to build a healthy war chest for the general campaign.

    Scott Brown will be a dangerous candidate in 2014, and he’s not going to be stupid enough to agree to a ban on outside money/ads again.

  60. 60
    El Caganer says:

    The biggest reason I can think of to appoint Frank as the interim senator would be to expedite the approval of Obama appointees who require Senate confirmation. They probably still have to tinker with Senate rules to keep the Republicans from fucking everything up, but having somebody with Frank’s DC experience should help break up the logjam.

  61. 61
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @dr. bloor: This.

  62. 62
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Hadn’t seen that. Unless he’s hiring a placeholder to keep the seat warm for himself, it’s a dumb move.

    Yep, very dumb.

    Had Christine O’Donnell not own goaled the Delaware Republicans, that same move would have guaranteed Senator Mike Castle.

  63. 63
    Calouste says:

    @dr. bloor: The election won’t be in 2014. In Massachusetts, the election is five month after the vacancy occurred. This is a law that was brought in when Kerry was running in 2004 to prevent Romney from appointing a Gooper for two years on case Kerry won.

  64. 64
    Lojasmo says:

    @dr. bloor:

    The senate wasn’t the problem during the ACA, so, no.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dr. bloor: The interim appointment would only last about four months. Mass. requires a special election to fill the seat for the remainder of the term. If we were talking about a situation where the appointee would have the seat until 2014, I would agree with you. In the present case, however, I do not think it is bad to send someone to DC to vote for few months without worrying about running while, at the same time, the real contenders contest the election.

  66. 66
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    IIRC he did the same thing when Kennedy died. It is not necessarily a self-interested measure. The impression I get is that he believes that the people should select their senator has no fucking clue what the game is. This is a good thing resulted in the election of Scott Brown, and will again.

    Fixed for accuracy.

  67. 67
    Calouste says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Open seats in the House of Representatives always lead to a special election. Only in case of a Senate vacancy can a governor make an appointment.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Okay, who should Patrick appoint sit in he seat for the next few months to ensure that Brown doesn’t get elected?

  69. 69
    Sterling says:

    @El Caganer: How would Frank’s appointment change the Senate confirmation numbers? Kerry, a highly experienced senator, couldn’t do anything about it, so why would appointing Frank make any difference?

    There’s nothing magical about Barney Frank. He can’t make republicans do what they don’t want to do anymore than any other democrat can.

  70. 70
    Lojasmo says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Scott Brown will be a dangerous candidate in 2014, and he’s not going to be stupid enough to agree to a ban on outside money/ads again.

    Brown didn’t “agree to” the ban. He was the driving force behind it.

    link

    Want to further express your ignorance of MA electoral politics? Please proceed, governor.

  71. 71
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Lojasmo:

    The senate wasn’t the problem during the ACA, so, no.

    Interesting revisionist history. The Senate was precisely the fucking problem and squandered the Democrats’ bicameral majority.

  72. 72
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Capuano. Markey. I don’t care. Just someone who will run in the special and isn’t named Martha. Anyone on the table is better than a Republican.

    And if Massachusetts Democrats aren’t satisfied with the choice, primary her/him.

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Do you think that, let’s say, Markey would really have a significant advantage in May if he was appointed to the seat now?

  74. 74
    danielx says:

    @JasonF:

    Seconded. Contemplation of the number of wingnut heads exploding is enough to make me want to see Barney Frank take the job on an interim basis all by itself. Come to think of it, it’s probably enough to make Barney Frank take the job all by itself, since one of his great joys in political life has been sticking a thumb in conservative eyes just because.

  75. 75
    Peregrinus says:

    @Sterling:

    I think it makes sense if you take it from the other end – Barney Frank knows how DC works, so the Dems would be operating with more or less the same degree of institutional knowledge, versus having a newbie who needs to get used to the job.

    Which is also an argument for electing Capuano or Markey. I’m not from MA, so I don’t know much about either one, but I hear Markey would be the more liberal candidate?

  76. 76
    TR says:

    Affleck was offered the job? I guess I was too.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TR: No Affleck said he wasn’t going to run in the special election. AL conflated the two things in the OP in a way that makes your interpretation possible.

  78. 78
    Feudalism Now! says:

    What about Ben Downing? He is a state senator from the Berkshires who has done some good work on energy policy. He sparred with Brown when Brown was a do nothing in the state senate. I’m not familiar enough with Democratic Party in Mass. to know whether a western Mass. candidate can get out the vote in Boston to be viable.

  79. 79
    Pluky says:

    @Feudalism Now!: Uh, no. The political mass in Mass is firmly to the east.

  80. 80
    BobbyThomson says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes.

  81. 81
    nicteis says:

    The foolish thing about appointing a caretaker is not so much that the next Democratic candidate won’t have the advantage of incumbency, as the fact that there are so many terrific B team possibilities on our bench (and Elizabeth was our only A team), and a primary will bruise the eventual victor, both in funding and in public image. As folks have said, Brown is genuinely damaged, and as they have also said, he will remain a formidable candidate. Fairly easily beatable, I think, by an heir apparent, with or without incumbency, but a squeaker to beat if you’ve just been bloodied by a hard primary (fought before an electorate already weary of special elections.)

    I’m in Capuano’s district, and I’ve had the good fortune to meet Rep. Markey in person. Either one would make a terrific senator. Either one has both advantages and drawbacks as a candidate. They are both completely on top of the details of the issues, and would make mincemeat of Brown in debates, on substance. Markey comes across a bit professorial, but he’s energetic and a happy warrior. I’d pick him, if I had my druthers, because he’s one person who has fully grasped the urgency of the climate issue. Capuano is a standup liberal on all fronts, with a persona that’s scrappy, heated, urban, blue collar. I’d have pegged him as too angry to appeal to women or moderates – but after Scott’s treatment of Warren, and her exposure of his spotty-at-best record on votes affecting them, women aren’t going to move back to Brown.

    I’m praying for a clear front-runner to emerge, and it’ll likely be one of these two. If they split the liberal vote, the contender will be Lynch, our most conservative rep.

  82. 82
    MattR says:

    @John D.: It is a bit of a nitpick, but while CPI-E is an experimental index the “E” in the name stands for elderly. (Like CPI-U is for urban and CPI-W is for wages)

    My guess for why that index has remained experimental after nearly 20 years is that it runs higher than the other two indices and that runs counter to the Village narrative that seniors are making out on Social Security cost of living adjustments (based on CPI-W)

  83. 83
    handsmile says:

    @nicteis:

    Appreciate your reply addressing my #58 question/comment above.

    Could you (or other Bay Stater commenting here) summarize how the slate of candidates will be determined for the upcoming special election for the Senate seat?

    Do the grandees of each state party simply select one candidate (e.g., Brown as the GOP choice)? Would there be a Democratic primary election among contenders? Is it an open contest, regardless of party or party leaders’ selection?

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Look, here’s my point: if there was an obvious, odds-on successor to the seat in 2014, then Patrick’s appointee right now wouldn’t be as important.

    Why are you jumping ahead to 2014 when the special election for the seat is required to take place in the next 5 months? I really doubt that holding that seat for 5 months will give such a huge incumbent advantage that it’s worth appointing the person Patrick wants and tying them down to the Senate’s schedule when that person could be campaigning in Massachussetts for the next 5 months instead.

    IIRC, the sequence of events is:
    Patrick appoints an interim senator, who holds the seat for the next 5 months while the special election is run. The winner of the special election then has the seat until 2014, when that class of senators comes up for elections.

  85. 85
    rb says:

    @nicteis: This, all of it. You saved me the trouble of writing it.

    I favor Markey as well (he’s my rep).

  86. 86
    wasabi gasp says:

    That last number I posted last night is not actually Mingus, it’s the Mingus Big Band. Record needed correcting.

  87. 87
    Publius39 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Why are you jumping ahead to 2014 when the special election for the seat is required to take place in the next 5 months? I really doubt that holding that seat for 5 months will give such a huge incumbent advantage that it’s worth appointing the person Patrick wants and tying them down to the Senate’s schedule when that person could be campaigning in Massachussetts for the next 5 months instead.

    This. Deval said that the reason why he doesn’t want his pick to run for the seat in the special election is because he believes that the state needs a competent Senator who can focus on legislating and not splitting five months between the Senate and the campaign trail. And yes, the special election would be held roughly 6 months after the person is selected, and then they would have to run in 2014 and 2016, IIRC.

  88. 88
    Kropadope says:

    @dr. bloor
    The Senate was not, in fact, the major stumbling block at that stage of the ACA deliberations. The version that ultimately became law had already passed the Senate and had to fight its way through the house.
    Yes, Elizabeth Warren was worth the wait. Senator elect Warren has a strong record of advocating for hard working families. Martha Coakley could hardly be bothered to show up for her own campaign. Scott Brown did some damage, but he stood down on some important procedural votes that he knew he couldn’t sustain as a MA candidate. It probably helped to remind some people what they’re getting into with even the most harmless appearing Rs.

  89. 89
    Jim says:

    @Earl: Very nice, Earl.

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