Barney Frank, former U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, was last seen stumping for establishment candidate Hillary Clinton in Politico (though perhaps “attacking Bernie Sanders” is a better description), is back in the news for an interview at Slate titled, no surprise, “Barney Frank is Not Impressed by Bernie Sanders.”
The bulk of the interview consists of attacks on Bernie Sanders, which is typical modus operandi for Frank, a huge Clinton supporter. Among other things, he claims he’s got “little to show” for his 25 years in Congress (other than passing the most amendments of any House member in a Republican Congress, apparently, which earned him the title of “the amendment king”), and that everything he and his supporters want is unrealistic. But again, that’s standard behavior for Frank—he’s an establishment guy who supports establishment politics, so of course he doesn’t like non-establishment candidate.
Where the interview gets really interesting is when he starts talking about The Big Short and The Daily Show. As the co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act, the aim of which was to reform Wall Street and the “too big to fail” banks, Frank has a vested interest in the success of his legislation—even in retirement. As most people now understand, and as The Big Short made clear, the “too big to fail” portion of the Act has failed miserably, as the largest banking institutions in the nation are still inflated to dangerous degrees. Meanwhile, small community banks have been negatively impacted, which only increases the power of the mega-banks. Overall, Dodd-Frank is a mixed bag, but Frank himself apparently will brook no criticism. Here’s what he had to say on The Big Short:
What did you make of The Big Short, by the way?
I didn’t see the movie. I read the book. Why?
Well, I know the situation, I read the book. I am told at the end of the movie they say nothing changed, which is nonsense.
The movie does say something like that. The politics of the movie are actually interesting because it’s more cynical than I think people like you are.
Right, so why would I want to see it?
The short version: Politician would prefer not to hear any criticism of his legislation. He continues, taking a shot at Jon Stewart and The Daily Show:
Part of the problem is there is a tendency in the media to demonize politics to the extent that it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether with Jon Stewart or House of Cards or The Big Short. It basically tells people, “Everybody stinks, they’re all no good,” and that’s one of the reasons people don’t participate.
Frank’s position appears to be that our national cynicism toward establishment politics is a result of media propaganda, rather than an inept Congress. Agree or disagree at your leisure. I’ll leave you with the most outrageous portion of all, when he compares Bernie Sanders to Joe McCarthy for having the audacity to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s hundred-thousand-dollar speeches to big banks might constitute a conflict of interest:
Do you think she should release her Wall Street speeches?
Yeah, but I don’t think anybody is really against her because she won’t. By the way, I think Sanders has been outrageously McCarthyite on that.
Yes, I saw one commercial that said the big companies weren’t punished. Why? Well, maybe it’s because Hillary is getting speaking fees. So the secretary of state should have been indicting people? I mean, yes, McCarthyite in the sense that it’s guilt by association.
To summarize: Sanders, who has been painted as a near-communist by his rivals, is now the author of a second red scare. Okay, Barney.