Frank: It Would Be Reasonable For Dems To Challenge Specter

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GQ‘s Lisa DePaulo conducted a long interview with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)–the quick-witted, at times acerbic, chair of the House Financial Services Committee–and among many other things, she asked him about his party’s newest member. “[A]s a Democrat,” Frank said, “I’m glad to have him.”

But as an elected official, I have to say I don’t think he did our profession any good. First of all, to announce that it was done purely so he could survive. Secondly, his performance since then has been very disappointing. In particular, what troubled me was when he was quoted as saying, “Well…” In terms of no Jewish Republicans, the answer should have been, Who cares? That’s not a relevant issue. But then, when he said, Oh, but I’m confident the courts in Minnesota will do justice to Norm Coleman, and then said, Oh, I forgot which side I’m on!–forget about forgetting which side he’s on. What that says is, his view of what the law should be depends on what party he’s in. This notion that your view of what’s an appropriate legal decision depends on your party is shocking for a guy who’s supposed to be this great lawyer.

So what does that mean, in his mind, for the 2010 election? Frank said, “there’s an erratic behavior pattern there that’s very troubling. I think at this point it’s entirely reasonable for some Democrats to think about challenging him.” Unfortunately, the interview doesn’t touch on Specter’s most likely challenger–Frank’s House colleague Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).Frank also voiced some sympathy for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who’s been taking fire for weeks now over revelations about how much (and for how long) she knew about the Bush torture regime. “I’ve been in that position,” Frank told DePaulo. “You get briefed, you are told something in absolute confidence, and you can’t share it with anybody, and you’re not necessarily prepared to handle it.”

It’s really a way to shut you up… And so I think that’s what happened to Nancy. She was given information in a way that she literally couldn’t use, could not self-evaluate, because she was all by herself. In fact, she and I have talked about this, and some others. We have to change these rules about what you can do with briefing information.

In case you were wondering, he also said he supports those who out closeted gay Republicans. But that doesn’t mean he’s some kind of radical. As he’s intimated before, he said he understands the Obama administration’s slow approach to achieving equal rights for gays and lesbians. “I was not in favor of his coming out for same-sex marriage when he first got elected. But I would hope he would be by the time he runs for reelection…. I think it would have given the opposition help they didn’t need.”

Just today, the Obama administration prevailed upon the Supreme Court not to hear a challenge to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, leaving the questions of if and when the policy will be repealed in the busy and hesitant hands of the White House and Congress.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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