Let’s be frank: In some corners of Washington, D.C., news of Rep. Barney Frank’s impending retirement was met with hoots and hollers, not sadness and regret. The nation’s most memorable gay congressional crusader has been at the center of controversy for decades, yet managed to avoid any serious political consequences.
Whether Frank was denying the existence of the housing bubble he helped create, procuring employment for his lover, or letting one rip on the Rachel Maddow Show, he has managed to make himself the center of attention. So as a parting gift, we’ll give ol’ Barney one more turn in the spotlight.
Here’s a look at The Daily Caller’s top ten Barney Frank moments. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Number 10: “I want to roll the dice”
In a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Sept. 25, 2003, Frank told the committee,” I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing …”
Frank’s willingness to put politics above the taxpayers who would eventually cover his losses from gambling on the housing market clearly did not end well.
Number 9: “You are not going to see a collapse” in the housing market
During a House debate in 2005, Barney Frank expressed his belief that the housing bubble would not behave like the dot-com bubble.
“Unlike previous examples we have had, where substantial excessive inflation of prices later caused some problems, we are talking here about an entity, home ownership, homes, where there is not the degree of leverage that we have seen else where…Homes that are occupied may see an ebb and flow in the price. … But you are not going to see a collapse.”
Sometimes irony is funny. The millions left in under-water or foreclosed homes will tell you that this wasn’t one of those times.
Number 8: The Steve Gobie affair
In 1985 while Barney Frank was still in the closet, he hired male prostitute Steve Gobie as his aide, housekeeper and driver. Frank used his power as a congressman to waive Gobie’s parking tickets while he ran a prostitution ring out of Frank’s house.
Later, he asked the House Ethics committee to investigate him, “in order to insure that the public record [was] clear.” No punishment ensued.
Number 7: Herb Moses
In 1991 Barney Frank helped Herb Moses, a former lover, acquire a job at Fannie Mae.
“It is a common thing in Washington for members of Congress to have spouses work for the federal government,” he told the Boston Herald. “There is no rule against it at all.”
Frank used his rank to get Moses a position in an organization he propped up until its ultimate collapse.
Sure, there are no rules against that either. But it sure doesn’t sound ethical.
Number 6: Frank talks about showing with gay soldiers
Frank asks TheDC’s Nick Ballasy (then with CNSnews.com): “What do you think goes wrong when people shower with homosexuals?” — when asked whether gay and straight soldiers should be forced to shower together in military barracks.
Number 5: Dodd–Frank-enstein
Following the financial collapse of 2008, perhaps coupled with Barney Frank’s guilt over denying the reality of a bursting housing bubble, the Dodd–Frank financial regulatory law passed in 2010.
Frank proudly attached his name to this bill, which ultimately did nothing to insure against corporate bailouts for “too big to fail” companies. It did, however, pass along debit-card fees to consumers.
Number 4: Barney Frank was gay before it was cool
Frank once told the Washington Blade: “I was the first to acknowledge being gay. … I didn’t do it until I was 47. I was not the daring young man on the flying trapeze here.”
Barney Frank was, however, the second openly gay member of Congress. (The first was Gerry Studds.)
“Before Gerry, a number of members of Congress had been caught in sexual activity that would have led people to infer that they were gay. As I recall, all of them announced that they were too drunk to remember what they were doing, which is an unusual description of one’s capacity to be drunk to remember things, but that’s what they said.”
Number 3: Barney slurred by Dick’s slip
In 1995, House majority leader Dick Armey referred to Barney Frank as “Barney Fag.” Perhaps a freudian slip, perhaps a gay slur, but either way it drew attention to Frank’s sexual orientation and put him in the spotlight.
Frank later told The New York Times: “I rule out that it was an innocent mispronunciation. I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag.”
Number 2: So full of hot air, it had to escape somehow
Barney Frank may — or may not — have farted on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
There’s really nothing else we can say about this, other than to note that Maddow didn’t call him on it — no doubt in observance of the “she who smelt it dealt it’ rule.
Number 1: The mea culpa of them all
Following the announcement that he would no longer run for Congress, Barney Frank co-sponsored a bill Tuesday that would repeal the “death panel” component of Obamacare.
We tip our hats to you, Barney. This was a political move only a lame-duck Democratic politician could pull. And it just might be your most memorable career move ever.