Conventional wisdom has it that Barney Frank occupies one of the safest seats in Congress. After all, it’s an ultra-liberal district created through one of the most outrageous examples of gerrymandering in American history.
In addition, he almost never has a significant opponent. Who would waste the time and money in such a reliably Democratic district?
With the events of the past few weeks, however, all bets are off. Frank has been the architect of a wildly unpopular bailout plan that has constituents seeing red. After its failure today, Barney looked especially foolish trying to blame Republicans for the loss:
Democrats later said that if her speech truly cost votes, then Republicans, in the words of Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, were guilty of punishing the country because Ms. Pelosi had hurt their feelings.
Amazingly, Frank could not even deliver the full Massachusetts delegation for the bill, as three voted against the plan. Worse, many of his fellow House Financial Services Committee members nixed it.
Already, Frank’s past role as chief defender of the excesses at Fannie and Freddie are coming back to haunt him and he’s taking a lot of heat here at home.
In today’s Globe, Jeff Jacoby nails Frank for his quasi-criminal antics:
But his fingerprints are all over this fiasco. Time and time again, Frank insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in good shape. Five years ago, for example, when the Bush administration proposed much tighter regulation of the two companies, Frank was adamant that “these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis.” When the White House warned of “systemic risk for our financial system” unless the mortgage giants were curbed, Frank complained that the administration was more concerned about financial safety than about housing.
Now that the bubble has burst and the “systemic risk” is apparent to all, Frank blithely declares: “The private sector got us into this mess.” Well, give the congressman points for gall. Wall Street and private lenders have plenty to answer for, but it was Washington and the political class that derailed this train. If Frank is looking for a culprit to blame, he can find one suspect in the nearest mirror.
What’s fascinating is how a strange coalition of conservatives and liberals came together to defeat Frank and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Wall Street Journal chronicles that process here.
So far, the political fallout is unknown. As citizens sort through their feelings on the matter, polls most certainly can’t be trusted at this time.
But this IS shaping up as one of those “throw the bums out” years, where absolutely anything could happen on election day. We get one of these perhaps once in a generation.
And that’s why Frank should be worried: there is a warm body running against him, a person who just might benefit from the angriest protest vote in many years.
His name is Earl Henry Sholley and he’s a Republican. As I’d never heard of the guy, I did some digging: Sholley’s a longtime parental rights activist who has previously made unsuccessful runs for the statehouse.
After serving jail time for slapping his daughter many years ago, Sholley embarked on a judicial crusade for parental rights as they relate to family discipline.
In any other year, Sholley and his no-budget campaign would be lucky to generate 20% of the vote. But this year, with Frank’s betrayal of the working class members of his district, particularly the conservative Democrats on the South Coast of Southeastern Massachusetts, election night could give Barney the scare of his life.
The still-building anger against Frank is so stunningly intense that his traditional base of support could be ready to send him to Chappaquiddick in a rusty Oldsmobile Delmont 88.
It’s the same kind of outrage that could threaten a number of elected officials from both parties this year, as conventional political wisdom is thrown out the window. This meltdown occurred much to close to election day for Barney’s own good.
And even if he does survive the election, beating his no-name opponent, Frank’s political credibility is toast, as is Pelosi’s. Monday, they looked like morons.