Barney Frank: At the Center of the Storm

Mass. congressman "vilified," but sticks to his guns
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 5, 2008 8:00 AM CST
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., watches as witnesses arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008, prior to the committee's hearing on the automotive...   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – At the center of Washington’s financial crisis, Barney Frank has been called a “left-wing zealot”—but the congressman, while he’s admitted mistakes, has long been canny and courageous in his positions, writes Maureen Tkacik in Boston magazine. Amid much talk of the “moral hazards” in addressing the crisis, “the real hazard, Frank understands all too well, is in failing to try to open the other side's eyes.”

Frank had his own eyes opened when he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality and was linked to a prostitution scandal in the 1980s. His successful reemergence proved him “fallible,” and thus able to “stake out positions that other politicians would shy away from.” That aided him in a prescient stance on a 1998 incident that mirrored today’s crisis; now, he’s willing to dive “headfirst into the moral-hazard morass” to rescue the very people who labeled him a zealot.