This shocked me when it came across my Twitter feed early this morning:
It is true, though. Barney Frank, Democratic Congressional veteran and Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, won’t run for re-election. Most folks, if they had Frank’s history of scandal –see if the name Stephen Gobie and the phrase “whore house run out of Frank’s apartment by his boyfriend and personal aide” ring any bells – wouldn’t be in Congress right now but Barney Frank has never been like most folks. He put that whole sordid story behind him and, thanks to one of the most securely Democratic districts in the country, became the member of Congress who almost sunk the economy and destroyed the housing market all by himself.
Quite a resume, wouldn’t you say? Frank was the chief defender of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while those agencies gobbled up sub-prime mortgages and morgtage-backed securities like Galactus devours planetary systems. When the Bush administration, and Congressional Republicans attempted to rein in the twin GSEs, Frank shrugged off any suggestion that there were any problems with them at all.
“These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” the New York Times quoted Frank as saying in 2003. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”
If you really want to know why Frank is retiring from Congress, though, you need look no farther than this paragraph in a USA Today story.
Frank, 71, said a redistricting plan signed into law last week would have required him “to campaign in a district that is almost half new” and divide his loyalties between new and long-time constituents. Under the plan, Frank’s district lost the Democratic stronghold of New Bedford and included more conservative communities.
Thanks to redistricting, Franks one-secure seat is not as secure as it used to be. Rookie Republican candidate Sean Bielat pushed him harder than he’d been pushed in a long time in the 2010 election — Bielat lost by only 13 points or so. With more “conservative” voters in his true-blue district, Frank would have to move at least a little bit out of Progressive Cloud Cuckoo land and he rightly decided he couldn’t maintain the facade of reasonableness such a move would require. Of course he won’t actually say that, but he doesn’t have to. His party is saying the very same thing on a national scale and Frank is, if nothing else, the perfect example of a mainstream Democratic politician.