Barney Frank, the ultimate partisan hack.
September 11th, 2012
While I cannot think of a single pro-gay bill that he has written or introduced, and while I cannot recall any real expenditure of effort on any pro-gay legislation, and while I know that he has campaigned for watering down some legislation, I also am aware that he has added his name to the list of co-sponsors on a number of supportive bills. And maybe he has really worked for some of them. Maybe he was the unseen, unheard, driving force.
And though when such bills arise, it seems to me that Frank uses the media to advance first his own image and second that of his party, he truly has advocated in the media for pro-gay positions. And that is, without question, a good thing.
I am fully aware of Uncle Barney’s role in raising the visibility of gay people. I am delighted with his decision to marry his long-time partner, James Ready, and do so while still in office.
Would I have preferred that the visible role not be the irascible, cantankerous, and generally unpleasant person that is Barney Frank? Yes. Would I have preferred that the face of gay politics be Tammy Baldwin or Jared Polis? Absolutely! But would I have been ready to overlook that in the name of community unity and advancement? You bet.
However, I simply cannot overlook the fact that Barney Frank is the worst kind of politician, a partisan hack. I can forgive hypocrisy, personal failure, even slick polished empty suits. But I have little use for a politician who tries to broker my community for his personal advancement or that of his party.
I have not been a fan of Mr. Frank since, in the 1990 Massachusetts gubernatorial race, he
endorsed supported raging homophobe John Silber over Bill Weld*. That was a jaw-dropping, mind-numbing act of partisan absurdity. I’ve seen no reason to rejoin his fan club since. In fact, now that his career is ending, it seems that he has taken on a new role: throwing a wrench into any possible bipartisan movement that can be achieved on gay rights.
And that pisses me off.
Earlier this year I shrugged off Barney’s trashing of Massachusetts congressional candidate Richard Tisei, a gay Republican as just being “typical Barney Frank”. But now I’m seeing it as a part of a pattern. He loves the partisan divide: pro-gay Democrats and anti-gay Republicans, and he’ll do anything he can to weaken any Republican that supports our community.
Barney’s latest is his new mantra that Log Cabin Republicans are “Uncle Toms”. He tossed that one out on Michelangelo Singorelli’s radio show and gave an encore at the Democratic Party Convention.
But it seems not to have gotten the standing O that he expected. In fact, several organizations politely stated that they didn’t agree with the Congressman. Rather than nod adoringly at anything Uncle Barney says, they put the goals of our community over Barney’s party-first hate speech.
Well, Barney isn’t going to let that stand, so he’s now trotted out an “explanation” of just why it is that Log Cabin Republicans are the moral equivalent of slaves defending and empowering slavery. Sadly, he seems to be a bit factually deficient in his statement, so I’ll give him a little help:
I am not surprised that members of the Log Cabin Republicans are offended by my comparing them to Uncle Tom. They are no more offended than I am by their campaigning in the name of LGBT rights to elect the candidate and party who diametrically oppose our rights against a President who has forcefully and effectively supported our rights. [Little problem, Barney, Log Cabin hasn't been "campaigning in the name of LGBT rights to elect" Mitt Romney. Nor have they been "campaigning in the name of LGBT rights to elect" the Republican Party. In fact, as best I can tell, they've been very circumspect about their campaigning this season, limiting it to those few Republicans that they see as allies.]
That is the first reason for my admittedly very harsh criticism. [No, it's not criticism. It's a slur.] This election is clearly one in which there is an extremely stark contrast between the two parties on LGBT rights. The Democratic President and platform fully embrace all of the legal issues we are seeking to resolve in favor of equality. The Republican candidate for President and the platform on which he runs vehemently oppose us in all cases. [On this we agree.] On the face of this, for a group of largely LGBT people to work for our strong opponent against our greatest ally is a betrayal of any supposed commitment to our legal equality. [But, there you go again with your objection to something that simply seems not to exist. Are you senile, Barney? Or perhaps you are so ignorant that you are unaware that Log Cabin hasn't been "working for" Romney and too lazy to look it up? Or maybe it's just that you are lying.]
But my use of “Uncle Tom” was based not simply on this awful fact that they have chosen to be actively on the wrong side of an election that will have an enormous impact on our right to equality, both in fact and in the public perception of the popularity of that cause. [Have you stopped beating your husband, Barney? God, I hate politicians who believe that if they repeat the same heinous lie over and over then it makes them right.] If the Log Cabin Republicans – or their even more outlandish cousins, the oddly-named GOProud -were honestly to acknowledge that they let their own economic interests, or their opposition to strong environmental policies, or their belief that we need to be spending far more on the military or some other reason ahead of any commitment to LGBT equality, and on that ground have decided to prefer the anti-LGBT candidate to the supportive one, I would disagree with the values expressed, but would have no complaint about their logic.
[Ummmm... okay, once more with the COMPLETE AND TOTAL IGNORANCE attempt. GOProud does exactly that. They acknowledge that Romney is worse on gay issues but they have other priorities (though the phrasing of your examples suggests that you would most definitely complain). It's one of several reasons I have no respect for GOProud.]
The damaging aspect of the Log Cabin argument, to repeat the most important point, is that they may mislead people who do not share their view that tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than LGBT rights into thinking that they are somehow helping the latter by supporting Mitt Romney and his Rick Santorum platform.
[Sure, Barney, Log Cabin supports the Rick Santorum platform. Even you can’t be so “misled” as to believe that, you obnoxious blowhard. And of course, those are the two choices: ‘tax cuts for the wealthy’ and ‘LGBT rights’. And of course Log Cabin has the “view that tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than LGBT rights.”
Yep, exactly what one expects from a partisan hack that sees things only in blue or red. And I’m supposed to take anything you say as credible again, Uncle Hatebag?
But you keep trotting out that utter bullshit about how Log Cabin is misleading people. Maybe John Silber would agree. I hear he hates gay Republicans, too.]
It is a good thing for Republicans to try to influence other Republicans to be supportive of LGBT rights. The problem is when they pretend to be successful when they haven’t been, and urge people to join them in rewarding the Republicans when they have in fact continued their anti-LGBT stance. [Speaking of urging, I urge you to pretend for a moment that you have intellectual honesty. That's the fourth time you've pushed that lie.] I have been hearing the Log Cabin Republicans proclaim for years that they were improving the view of that party towards our legal equality. In fact, over the past 20 years, things have gotten worse, not better. [Really!?! You honestly think ANYONE will fall for that? No, Uncle Absurdity, the number of supportive Republicans has increased over the past 20 years. Not to the extent of Democrats, but better than they were - much better.] Most recently, on DOMA, when the House Republicans offered an amendment to reaffirm it, they voted 98% in favor of it, while Democrats voted more than 90% against the amendment. And it is not surprising that they have not been successful. Giving strong political support to people who are maintaining their anti-LGBT stance is hardly an effective strategy for getting them to change it. [Sure, If anyone were fucking doing that, Uncle Calumny.]
The argument Mr. Cooper and the others in the Log Cabin Republicans have put forward in their defense is that they have succeeded in getting the Republicans to reduce the extent to which they denounce us, and, in Mr. Cooper’s phrase, the fact that Paul Ryan is “willing to engage” with gay Republicans. That is where Uncle Tom comes to mind. They are urging people to vote for the anti-LGBT candidate [in your bloated delusional mind] over the most supportive LGBT candidate and platform imaginable because the “antis” are calling us fewer names and are willing to talk to some of us. It is this willingness to acquiesce in a subordinate status as long as the masters are kinder in tone, although in substance, that emulates Uncle Tom. [I take it you've never actually read the book. Just like you've never read a word written by LCR.]
I note Mr. Cooper points to a couple of Republicans as reasons for supporting that party and helping advance its anti-LGBT crusade. [That's a really foul lie. To accuse LCR of "helping advance its anti-LGBT crusade" is as hateful as anything I've seen from Linda Harvey.] As to Representative Ryan, in addition to his “willingness to engage with them,” Mr. Cooper cites his vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. In fact, Paul Ryan has an overwhelmingly anti-LGBT voting record, including opposition to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and a transgender-inclusive hate crimes bill [I wonder if that's similar to lobbying to make ENDA trangender-non-inclusive?], and support for a constitutional amendment not just to ban future same-sex marriages but to dissolve existing ones. It is true that on one occasion he voted for ENDA, but he did so only after voting minutes before for a Republican procedural maneuver – a motion to recommit the bill – which falsely invoked the specter that passage of ENDA would compel same-sex marriage and which, if it had passed, would have killed the bill. In other words, Paul Ryan has always voted against us, except for one occasion when he voted for us only after first trying to make the bill he theoretically supported inoperative.
[Yep, Paul Ryan is not a good guy. He is one good reason why Log Cabin should not endorse the Republican ticket... something that, so far anyway, they haven't done. And if they do, I'll criticize them on those terms.]
Mr. Cooper also cites Susan Collins. She was very good on the question of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But the argument that supporting Susan Collins advances LGBT rights ignores the fact that Senator Collins has twice defeated Democrats who were far more supportive of our issues than she was. [Did you really just make the argument that Log Cabin Republicans shouldn't support Sue Collins because she's not as supportive as would be a Democrat? You partisan walrus!] And an example of that is the current referendum in the state of Maine on marriage. We have a very good chance of winning in Maine, and winning a referendum is important both for the substantive rights of the people in Maine and for the political point that it demonstrates. Unlike the two Democratic Representatives from Maine, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, Susan Collins has been stubbornly silent. That is, in a state where marriage is on the ballot, and in a year in which she is not up for reelection, Senator Collins is withholding her support from us, unlike any Democrat who would have run against her. And remember, these are the best that the Log Cabin Republicans can cite.
[No, the best they can cite is that while the Democrats played games with DADT and basically killed the repeal, Sue Collins and Joe Liebermann resurrected the repeal and are deserving of the credit. She wasn't "very good" on DADT, she was essential. But I guess one of those "more supportive" Democrats would have been better than Collins. The fact is, Uncle Tammany, you clearly see your job as pushing party and party only. In fact, you are so partisan in your thinking that you cannot comprehend that LCR might not be doing everything that they can to get homophobic Republicans elected. After all, you did everything you could to get a homophobic Democrat elected - so putting ideals over party is just natural. Of course that's what LCR does, your befuddled brain tells you, it's what any unprincipled person like you would do.]
Some have complained that in comparing the Log Cabin Republicans to Uncle Tom, I was ignoring the fact that they are nice. [Nope, nary a soul. Not one person. No one on the face of the planet said that you were ignoring that they are "nice". That's just a lie you are using to set up what you think is the rhetorical zinger.] I accept the fact that many of them are nice – so was Uncle Tom – but in both cases, they’ve been nice to the wrong people. [And that, Barney, is a fault that no one has ever accused you of doing. Excessively nice is not your vice.]
Recent headlines in the Washington Blade make the point as clearly as I did. In the August 10th issue, a headline proclaims that the “Log Cabin seeks to purge anti-gay language from Republican [platform] document.” In the August 31st issue, another headline states that “Republicans affirm anti-gay views in platform, speeches.” In the September 7th issue, a third headline reports that “Democrats embrace marriage; hundreds of LGBT delegates take part.”
[Oddly enough, your addendum proves my point. Your objection to LCR is not that they are endorsing homophobes (and I hope they continue not to), your objection to LCR is that they are Republicans.]
Yep, I’m still over Uncle Partisan Hack.
R. Clark Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans was decidedly more civil than me in his response to Barney Frank:
Congressman Frank, of all people, should understand the importance of perseverance when working within a party to achieve change – after all, it was not so long ago his party was indifferent at best when it came to respecting gay families. Leaders committed to LGBT equality know that every victory our community has achieved has required bipartisan advocacy and bipartisan votes, and winning support from Republicans will only be more important in the days ahead. Come January, Republicans will maintain a majority in the House and likely secure a majority in the Senate. Without Log Cabin Republicans working with fellow conservatives, LGBT Americans would be left without a credible voice within the GOP. Barney Frank’s denial of Log Cabin Republicans success, particularly on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and the freedom to marry in New York, is sad but unsurprising. It is time for him to pass on the baton to leaders better suited to a world where equality is not a partisan issue.
* This endorsement is my recollection from the time, and that of others. However, as I cannot find a 1990 newspaper reference to an actual endorsement, I’ll restrict my commentary to “supported”. As the full Democratic leadership supported Silber over Weld, and as Frank was a very visible presence in that leadership, and as I recall being furious with his doing so, I am comfortable asserting that Frank supported Silber. And if Frank were to in any way express the notion that Weld was preferable to Silber it would have been front page news (as it likely would have been had he remained silent on the matter). But I’ll leave it to the reader whether or not to rely on my recollection.