Open Thread: Run, Barney, Run!

Barney Frank has “called the governor” to offer his services as an interim, short-term-only replacement for John Kerry. Dave Weigel explains one reason this is so important:

…[Y]ou have to understand two issues for liberals in the Senate: the knowledge problem and the seniority problem. The “knowledge problem” I’m referring to is the media buzz around deal-makers, and the relative lack of buzz around liberals. The Democrats mostly likely to appear in non-partisan media, to sell their wares on economic bills, are Chuck Schumer (who’s constrained by the fact that he represents so much of the financial industry) and any moderate who says he’s ready to cut back entitlements. That’s why you see Mark Warner quoted everywhere, but you only see Bernie Sanders on MSNBC.

The senior problem is, actually, structurally worse. The chairmen of the committees with the key roles on fiscal/spending issues are Tim Johnson (Banking), Max Baucus (Finance), Tom Harkin (HELP), and Patty Murray (Budget). Johnson, who’s up for re-election in 2014 and whose speech was damaged by a 2007 brain injury (he’s all there, he just uses a scooter and talks slowly), is no one’s idea of a crusading liberal. Neither is Harkin or Murray, for pure PR/media talent reasons. And Baucus is one of the most conservative members of the conference, an estate tax foe who voted for the Bush tax cuts and was (before Bush proposed a version of it in 2005) open to Social Security reform. Reporters and activists love Elizabeth Warren, but she’s in no position to lead on any negotiations right now.

Enter Frank. He’d fulfill the role of a Democratic vote, a negotiator, and a pundit, who’d be in demand for interviews to scour Republicans. If you’re a progressive, and a Senator Frank is a three-month possibility, you’d hate to settle for Sen. Random Guy Who’s Seen As Pretty Inoffensive. Because the other side of that debt debate is going to be highlighted by Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and a host of other people who summon cameras into existence whenever they speak.

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65 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    Senator Barney would be a kick to watch. I’d love seeing him take down some of the stuffed shirts in the Senate.

  2. 2
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    What I wouldn’t give to hear Barney Frank tell David Gregory that discussing policy with his hair cut is rather unproductive. I know that’s a bridge too far, but I’d love to see him bring his suffering fools ungladly persona up against Rubio or Ryan (I know I’m partisan, but I find them both to be empty suits, and I think in the case of Young Blue Eyes, a good chunk of the country agreed with me last year)

    along these lines, is Senator Franken waiting till he’s been re-elected to stop playing the “work-horse rather than show-horse” role?

  3. 3
    22over7 says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Franken must be waiting for something. I remember that he gave a (very short) interview to Lawrence O’Donnell at the Democratic convention, and that Rachel Maddow was soo jealous. She begged, begged Sen. Al to come on her show. Apparently he’s been asked numerous times but won’t give interviews.

    Too bad too. He’s smart, wonky, and hilarious.

  4. 4
    Nicole says:

    Are people certain Frank wouldn’t run for the full term? I thought I read somewhere his real reason for retiring was the 2010 redistricting because it meant he’d have a much tougher fight to stay in Congress. He’s got such name recognition he might actually find a state-wide race easier to win.

  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Nicole: The fact that he has volunteered himself for the temp job indicates to me that he doesn’t want the full-time one.

  6. 6
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    I’m for anything that keeps Barney front and center…and jabbing at the status quo.

  7. 7
    danah gaz says:

    Trying to do crunches with a “Door Gym” – it either doesn’t work as well as advertised or my spatial reasoning skills really suck and I don’t have it situated correctly. Meh.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @danah gaz: A door gym? Rubber tubing and slings?

  9. 9
    Warren says:

    Barney has zero interest in running for the full-term. He’s newly married and wants to settle down to write and maybe teach, and I can’t say as I blame him. It must be tiring to work with idiots for decades.

    The thing is, I don’t know if Barney and Deval have a particularly warm relationship, so I don’t know if the governor is entirely receptive to the offer.

  10. 10
    Mandalay says:

    It’s rape if you are pretending to be the husband, but not if you are pretending to be the boyfriend…

    “A man enters the dark bedroom of an unmarried woman after seeing her boyfriend leave late at night, and has sexual intercourse with the woman while pretending to be the boyfriend,” the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeal said in Wednesday’s ruling. “Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes.”

    Mind boggling. There will always be men who don’t respect women, but we also have laws that don’t respect women.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    I would love temporary Senator Frank

  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mandalay: That is a law that needs to be amended immediately.

  13. 13
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Is there any political downside for Gov. Patrick if he names Frank to the temp Senate job? I can’t think of one, but I’m not that familiar with Mass politics.

    All assuming, of course, that Kerry is confirmed as SoS.

    (O/T, it’s intermission time at the opera. I’m in my theatre seat waiting for Act Whatever of Berlioz’ Les Troyens to start. Good music, but this is one long mofo of an opera. Gives Wagner a run for his money!)

  14. 14
    Roger Moore says:

    In this case, at least, there may still be an OK ending to the story. The rapist was tried under two alternative theories of rape, so he may still be convicted on the grounds that the woman was asleep and unable to give consent when the sex started. And California has a non-wingnut state legislature, so there’s every probability that the law will be amended to something sane in the relatively near future.

  15. 15

    I wonder why we don’t see more of Sherrod Brown on the TV shows. He’s smarter than Paul Ryan and, unlike Ryan, isn’t a total fraud. Did he do something to alienate the Village Courtiers?

    Also too, not to be a sexist dickweed, but we are talking about appearing on TV in America, why don’t we see more of Kirsten Gillibrand? The time or two I’ve seen her, she is a pretty good representative.

    And on the seniority thing. This doesn’t affect the Republicans who bring out a new team of Young Turks every four years who immediately get major media attention.

  16. 16
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Nicole: I find it hard to believe that Massachusetts legislature would gerrymander Frank into a difficult to defend seat. Could there even be a seat that’s hard to win for a Democrat in Mass? Right now it’s solid blue and the only Republican in their state delegation other than Senator Centerfold was a house member who left in 1997. .

  17. 17
    Mandalay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Daddy, daddy, what do you do for a living?

    Sweetheart, your daddy is a lawyer, and works hard every day to ensure that men who fuck women without their consent get away with it. Are you proud of your daddy?

  18. 18
    lamh35 says:

    Good an open thread. I posted this OT in the last thread I hate doing that, so I’m posting it here in a better place :-).

    Booman has a great post up that I’m sure we all can agree with, just the title alone is true!
    Boehner Needs to Sober Up or Go Home
    by BooMan

    …For years people have been speculating that Boehner weeps so often in public because he is drunk so often in public.

    Personally, I wouldn’t care about Boehner’s drinking if her were just a congressman. But he’s third in line to the presidency and he’s blotto half the time. He can’t answer phone calls from mayors and governors or even the president if those phone calls come late at night.
    It’s ridiculous.

  19. 19
    Roger Moore says:

    @James E. Powell:

    Did he do something to alienate the Village Courtiers?

    You mean other than the sin of being an honest to FSM liberal Democrat?

  20. 20
    lamh35 says:

    When will Gov Patrick is the deadline to give the appointment.

  21. 21
    scav says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I had a friend who backed out of that one even after we suggested he wear a number pinned to his shirt and carbo-load beforehand. we salute you!

  22. 22
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @lamh35: I take it as a given that Boehner’s a drunk, what really pissed me off about that article was that McConnell and Boehner refused to take OBama’s calls on election night. Brought me back to MTP last Sunday where the Great Gassy Sunday Solons all agreed that the reason politics is so ugly is that Barack has never invited Mitch and Eric and Virginia Fox over to the “living quaters” for milk and cookies. I hate Brokaw– who some say also is fond of booze (Roger Ailes journalism standard met)– more than I hate Boehner or McConnell

  23. 23
    Maxwell's Demon says:

    I think that Elizabeth Warren will garner plenty of attention based on who she is, her history, the first female Senator from Massachusetts. And then the fact that she speaks plainly, tells truth to power, and has that common touch while being undeniably brilliant will do the rest.

    I hope Barney gets the appointment, as the junior Senator he can be the pulling guard leading the way for Warren. It is time for the Democrats to start “promoting” some of their less senior members and it is time for folk like Al Franken to step up and take charge publicly to complement the admirable work he has done behind the scenes.

  24. 24
    👽 Martin says:


    Are people certain Frank wouldn’t run for the full term?

    Yeah. Barney is backing Markley. Markley doesn’t want to take the interim seat because he’d need to give up his House seat and if he loses then he’s out entirely. Barney can take the Senate seat, help Markley run for that seat, and if Markley loses, he’s still in the House.

  25. 25
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    You may be right. IANAL and I did not really understand that part of the article. It seems that (with hindsight) the prosecution blew their original case, and may seek a makeover to retry the man for the same crime, right? How is that possible?

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

  26. 26
    aimai says:


    Yes, isn’t he in line for the Presidency in an emergency–like third in line? How I wish someone had gotten up and made a speech about the absurdity of a drunk who can’t answer the phone at night presuming to allow himself to take on such a high responsibility as being potentially in line for the Presidency.


  27. 27
    lamh35 says:

    Sorry whoever you are, blocking your number so the caller ID says “UNKNOWN” DOES NOT make me wanna pick up the phone anymore than usual. if u really wanted to talk to me, you’d at least make ur number known, even if I do google it to see if it’s a creditor…lol.

  28. 28
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @👽 Martin: OK, this is the first good reason I’ve seen for appointing an interim replacement.

  29. 29

    Barney Franks is one of the smartest and wittiest men to serve in DC and he’d be great as the interim Sen at an important time. It is doubtful he’d have lost his seat if he’d run, but that’s the qualifier – he’d have to campaign and Reps really don’t get to stop campaigning thanks to the 2 yr cycle and he’s tired of it. If he’s tired of that, expecting him to have any part of a State wide campaign is flat out mean.

  30. 30
    scav says:

    struuth, totally INAL but it looks like it also might not be technically rape if the rapist impersonates the lover of a married woman. It also seems to be worded in 1872 so that it’s not rape if its your own wife.

  31. 31
    Mayken says:

    @Mandalay: people are retried all the time for the same crime after an appeal overturns the conviction on one grounds or another. My understanding is in this case it was unclear whether the jury convicted him for impersonating the boyfriend or because she was asleep when the guy started raping her. But I read the decision very quickly so I could have misunderstood.

  32. 32
    Roger Moore says:

    As I understand it, the prosecution presented two theories of the rape: that it was rape because the woman was asleep and unable to give consent at the time the sex started and because the rapist impersonated the woman’s boyfriend and thus got consent by deceit. The court is saying that the theory of getting consent by deceit is invalid under the law. Because the jury didn’t (and AFAIK wasn’t required to) specify which theory(s) it used to convict, the court can’t be sure if the conviction is valid or not. The result is that he’s sent back for another trial where the prosecution is only allowed to present the theory that it was rape because woman was asleep and unable to give consent.

  33. 33
    Mandalay says:


    blocking your number so the caller ID says “UNKNOWN” DOES NOT make me wanna pick up the phone

    Most home phones now allow you to automatically block incoming “UNKNOWN” and “PRIVATE CALLER” calls. As you suggest, why talk to anyone who is going out of their way to hide their identity from you?

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mandalay: Sadly, while I deplore the result, as a lawyer, I was impressed by the cleverness of the defense argument. It was good lawyering.

  35. 35
    debbie says:

    The best part would be watching how pissed off the Republicans are to see Frank back in the room. Pepaw would go ballistic.

  36. 36
    lamh35 says:

    Um hmm. All I been saying since the decision came down was if I knew I was innocent and had money like Armstrong, then fight like hell to prove it to your damn dying death if you have to, IMHO.

    Lance Armstrong Said to Be Weighing Admission of Doping

  37. 37
    Arclite says:

    @Mandalay: Wow, whatever happened to being entitled to a vigorous defense?

  38. 38
    efgoldman says:


    Mind boggling. There will always be men who don’t respect women, but we also have laws that don’t respect women.

    And in case that doesn’t get your inner feminist churning, there’s this:

    “Father Piero Corsi said scantily dressed women bring out the worst instincts in men and cause violence or sexual abuse. He claimed women end up exacerbating tensions by ‘leaving children to themselves, having filthy houses, serving cold meals, buying fast food and providing dirty clothes.'”
    (h/t Benen)

  39. 39
    lamh35 says:

    Been catching up on new music from last year I missed. If you like Alicia Keyes, Beyonce’ and Adele all rolled into one little package, then you’ll love Emeli Sande’. She’s Britain’s Best New Artist of 2012. I just bought her CD and I love it already. Check out this youtube playlist to see how fantastic she is. It took awhile for some people to get on the Adele bandwagon (not me though, unlike some peole I didn’t join the bandwagon, I’d already discovered her from her debut album, so hey, I have a good track record…lol) so here’s hoping the same can be done for Emeli Sande’, who’s BTW real name is Adele…lol.

    So check out this playlist and give a Scottish born sista some love:

    I’ve been meaning to get back to her after the Olympics and all, but got sidetracked with my moms health issues.

    I remembered yesterday for some reason and after hearing the youtube playlist I bought the album this morning and I’ve been listening to it non-stop.

    She sings this version of “Abide With Me” that might make you weep, even if you aren’t especially “spiritual”.

  40. 40
    mdblanche says:

    @Woodrowfan: I think you underestimate how unpopular someone becomes as chairman of the House banking committee during the largest financial catastrophe in generations. In 2010 Frank was down to just his base he had cultivated over 30 years. It was enough to win reelection, but by his narrowest margin ever. Any change to his district was a potentially fatal blow then. I’m sure his standing has recovered by now, but I can see why he’d be ready to retire.

    @Bobby Thomson: There’s also the fact that state law requires it.

  41. 41
    Nicole says:

    Here’s a piece where Frank talked about redistributing influencing his decision not to run:

  42. 42
    Amir Khalid says:

    I don’t believe Lance Armstrong should be allowed to return to competitive sports. If he admits he doped, he also admits to perjuring himself every single time he testified under oath that he didn’t, in lawsuits involving a total of tens of millions of dollars. He’d need to secure immunity on those potential perjury charges, and he doesn’t deserve that either. Not after being the major corrupting influence on top-level cycling for much of his career.

  43. 43
    Jay C says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Why would Rep. Ed Markey have to “give up his seat” to run in the special election for Senator? Unless there’s some quirk of Massachusetts law I don’t know about, officeholders run for other offices all the time: though they can’t, of course, hold two simultaneously.


    The “deadline”, I think, is actually whenever Kerry resigns (i.e., the effective date of his resignation).

  44. 44
    efgoldman says:


    Any change to his district was a potentially fatal blow then. I’m sure his standing has recovered by now, but I can see why he’d be ready to retire.

    Well, in 2010, a GOBP landslide year, he still got 54%. He was certainly in no danger in 2012, with Obama at the top of the ballot.
    He’s not a young guy. I can see him wanting out. Also he is a keen observer of people, and has no illusions about the GOBP slide from “conservative” to “flat out crazy.”

  45. 45
    Mandalay says:


    Wow, whatever happened to being entitled to a vigorous defense?

    It’s alive and well, as this case shows. Everyone in the dock is fully entitled to a vigorous defense, and their lawyers are fully entitled to exploit every nook, cranny and loophole in the law.

    But the lawyers who do that exploitation are not automatically entitled to the respect and admiration of the population at large.

    But the real problem here is not the defense lawyers, but the lawmakers in California: “Uelmen said he found it “ironic” that a judge had spotted the anomaly in the law 30 years ago, yet the Legislature failed to change it.”.

    So the loophole was known about 30 years ago, but nothing was done.

  46. 46
    Raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: Biking is so goddamn boring. No one watched it until he came along and it can go back where it came from. Those outfits suck also, too.

  47. 47
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Is it true? Oh, I get it. It’s because he said the unthinkable. Now, that makes sense.

  48. 48
    Mandalay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Gotcha. Thanks.

  49. 49
    Woodrowfan says:

    @mdblanche: OK, fair enough

  50. 50
    mdblanche says:

    @efgoldman: In a district anchored by Brookline at one end and New Bedford at the other and where he’d been paying close attention to local issues for cascades, 54% was a poor performance even given the national climate. If his reservoir of goodwill had been any lower, he could have easily lost. And New Bedford is no longer in his district. Frank could have won reelection this time, but I can see how the changes in his district could have encouraged him to retire.

  51. 51
    bemused says:


    An Ely, MN doctor wrote a letter to a local paper recently, forget performance enhancing drugs, try sauna instead. He cited a study out of New Zealand testing the effects of regular post-exercise sauna baths on endurance runners. The group took 30 minute saunas 4 times a week after exercising for 3 weeks and their endurance increased by over 30%.

    Up here in northern MN, a lot of folks consider taking a sauna with plenty of steam as beneficial and necessary for total body well-being. Over Christmas vacation, two of our grown kids spent an afternoon at the family cabin taking a sauna and dipping in the lake through a hole in the ice. That’s going too far, imo, but they are young.

    The doctor said, “Too bad Lance Armstrong did not grow up in Ely. Lucky for us, we in Ely have a public sauna available to all”.

  52. 52
    BobS says:

    @lamh35: A friend of mine, who himself is no slouch as a drinker and who had some business dealings with Boehner (on golf courses) when he was at Nucite Sales, confirms Boehner’s affinity for the bottle.@efgoldman: Is Father Corsi from the Delhi archdiocese?

  53. 53
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    It is well worth it. The music is just fucking GORGEOUS. Lots of ballet, too, which I like. But yeah, it’s a bit of an endurance contest. We’re now in the second (and last) intermission, with one big act still to come.

  54. 54
    Donut says:


    Franken has been following one of the modt useful maxims a fisrt-term Senator can employ: don’t do any national media, ever. Instead of spending one’s time front of an NBC camera in a studio in DC or New York, one spends that time in the local affiliates’ satellite feeds. It really does go a long way towards helping a first termer (appear to) stay well-connected with their constituents.

  55. 55
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jay C:

    Why would Rep. Ed Markey have to “give up his seat” to run in the special election for Senator?

    He wouldn’t, but he would need to give up his seat to become the interim Senator. If he then lost the special election, he’d be out of office completely. This is a argument for appointing somebody like Frank, who’s out of office already, to the interim appointment; if Markey loses the special election, he’ll still be in the House.

  56. 56
    David Koch says:

    Frank is a coward.

    He opposed HCR. That was Ted Kennedy’s life’s work. On that matter alone, he doesn’t deserve to represent Massachusetts.

    Also too, bloggers told me that the Dodd-Frank bill was a sell out to the banks.

    Now you want to reward the author of the sellout with a Senate seat?

    And need I remind you that Frank was chairman of the House Banking committee when the banks imploded. He did nothing to stop them in his all powerful position. Not even a single fucking hearing.

    Can’t we hold consistent positions and, just once.

  57. 57
    Arclite says:


    But the real problem here is not the defense lawyers, but the lawmakers in California

    As long as you recognize that the issue isn’t with the lawyer. I don’t agree with the morality of it, but if the law allows it, and someone does it, then they shouldn’t be prosecuted for it, and the lawyer is just doing his/her job. Fix the damn law already.

  58. 58
    AHH onna Droid says:

    This is for the juicer who after a bad day at a new job despaired of any one believing what was going on with viruses and malware. The NYT has a big syndicated story about how ineffective commercial computer security is. I think the lid has just been blown off.

  59. 59
    AHH onna Droid says:

    @David Koch: Franks role with Fannie and Freddie may bear examination, but blaming him for Bush’s asleep at the switch SEC, and his Justice Dept with ‘ other priorities’ and Spitzer’s hypocritical lifestyle that gave Wall Street a weak point by which to take him down, and Clinton, Rubin, Greenspan and a lest we forget Republican house rolling back Glass Steagal and doling out easy money is a bit much.

  60. 60
    Steeplejack says:

    @AHH onna Droid:

    Got a link for that? I just looked at the Times site and nothing popped out except “Big Banks Hit by Cyber Attack.”

  61. 61
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Warren: It is indeed tiring to work with idiots. I’ve done it and don’t wish it on anybody with a brain.

    ABC, at least, is taking the platinum coin idea seriously and gave much more time to the pro-coin economist than the anti-coin one. I think the Village is starting to realize that having crazy people run the world economy is not good for the rich.

    Why is it called the Village? Is it because that’s shorter to type than Collection of Assholes?

  62. 62
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    I think the coin thingy is just crazy enough to balance the scales of wingnuttery. No disrespect intended, Jack Balkin.

  63. 63
    HobbesAI says:

    @lamh35: If you leave a message for somebody, and after listening they choose the option to reply, the phone call to you in many cases comes from the voice-mail system rather than from their phone, which will cause the number to show on your phone as ‘unknown’.

  64. 64
    pluky says:

    @👽 Martin: As a Mass resident, I must correct you. It’s Markey, not Markley. I think you might be conflating him with the late Joe Moakley.

  65. 65
    BruinKid says:

    @22over7: Lawrence then explained why people like Elizabeth Warren should NOT do ANY national interviews if they want to keep their jobs. And that’s exactly why Al Franken refuses to national interviews.

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