Barney Frank defends caustic town hall, calls other Dems ‘submissive’

Jonathan Strong Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.
Font Size:

Facing a legitimate challenger for the first time in ages, Rep. Barney Frank today defended his actions at a town hall in August 2009 in which he blasted his own constituents for interrupting him, saying unlike his fellow “submissive” Democrats Frank “spoke back.”

“Unlike some of my colleagues, who I think were kind of taken aback by that and were almost submissive … I answered civil questions civilly, but I spoke back,” Frank said on Fox News Thursday.

Frank’s interview appeared to thread the needle between his recent “nice guy” tack and defending his perennially caustic tone towards media figures, House colleagues, and even voters back home.

Seeking to explain his harsh tone at the town hall, Frank pointed to one questioner at the town hall, a zany Lyndon Larouche activist who questioned whether Obamacare was akin to the policies of Hitler.

At the town hall, Frank told that questioner, “Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table.” On Fox News today, Frank said “I said I thought that was despicable.”

However, video of the town hall shows Frank was nearly as dismissive of other questions more in line with the political mainstream.

One man, for instance, pressed Frank on why constituents should trust him on health care given his record on the financial crisis and the burgeoning federal deficit. After a contentious back-and-forth with the man for several minutes, Frank blew a gasket.

“You said, you’re worried about the deficit. Then you said you weren’t talking about the war. Who do you think paid for the war, Santa Claus?” Frank said.

In his Fox News interview, Frank also defended his actions regarding government bailouts for Wall Street, saying, “every single thing that was called a bailout was initiated by George Bush and some of them have worked out fairly well.”

As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank was in a pivotal role as Congress gave the Treasury Department $700 billion to fight the financial crisis.

“What happened was, in the fall of 2008, the top Bush-elected economic appointees — Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke and with the president’s explicit backing and Vice President Cheney’s backing, came to us and said, we are about to have the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, you have to respond,” Frank said.

Frank used his customary tactic of indignantly claiming he was interrupted to get more talking time.

“I’m sorry, sir, but you asked me a question. Don’t I get a chance to answer it?” Frank demanded to the host.