In his first debate with his Republican challenger today, the famously cantankerous Rep. Barney Frank discussed many issues. But on none was he as passionate as telling his opponent to stop interrupting him.
On eight separate occasions throughout the radio debate, Frank protested that Sean Bielat, his challenger, was interrupting him. And lest one thinks The Daily Caller is being petty – we got the idea from Frank, who was counting himself.
Frank started early. “Can I just ask what the rules are? Can I ask what the rules are about interrupting?” he urgently asked the debate’s moderator.
A short while later, the interruption issue erupted.
After Frank offered a less than sympathetic characterization of what Bielat had just said, Bielat interjected to clarify, at which point Frank said, “Mr. Bielat, please stop interrupting me.”
Bielat retorted that, “Before I had opened my mouth, you said to stop interrupting me. I know that’s one of your favorite debating tactics.”
“I haven’t interrupted Mr. Beilat once,” Frank said, which was false — he had interrupted him twice. “He’s interrupted me four times,” Frank complained. Indeed, it was true, or at least, that was the fourth time Frank complained about it.
The moderator, who frequently appeared exasperated with the interrupting meta-debate, asked the two to cool it. “Why are you guys so tense with each other? We can just relax and have a conversation,” he said.
Frank explained that, “I’m not tense, but I find that the voters don’t like it when people interrupt each other.”
The fifth time Frank complained about Bielat interrupting him, he said “I’m sorry, Mr. Bielat!”
The sixth time Frank complained about Bielat interrupting him, he actually denied his interruption obsession was a debate tactic. “Mr. Bielat thinks complaining about interruptions is a debating tactic. It’s, not. It’s really an effort to have things said that he might not like to be said. He distorts what I say,” Frank said.
The seventh time time Frank complained about Bielat interrupting him, he again said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Bielat!”
At this point, interruption was a gorilla in the room, and Bielat mocked Frank, saying “You’re interrupting me, you’re interrupting me!” and then laughing. Frank claimed he hadn’t been.
The eighth time, Frank sarcastically asked, “May I?” before speaking and then offered this sarcastic take: “I’m going to say some things you may not like, and I hope you can hold off while I finish. “
Frank, who recently morphed into a nice guy who cares what people think, was far less acerbic than his normal self, at least for most of the debate. It was only when he was interrupted that he could no longer help himself.