Monday, December 12, 2011

"The Political Scene: Barney’s Frank Opinions" (audio)

Michael Guerriero (The New Yorker) with audio (19:31):

“Well, I think he’s going to get the nomination,” Congressman Barney Frank said of Newt Gingrich, in this week’s Political Scene podcast, with Ryan Lizza and George Packer. “I don’t think we’ve had a time in American history when the dominant wing of a political party was so out of sync with everybody else,” Frank, who recently announced that he would not be seeking another term, said.

“It’s interesting that [Gingrich] and Romney are accusing each other of flip-flopping,” Frank told Packer and Lizza. “Between the two of them they could power a small-sized city with their gyrations. He has, unlike Romney, a nastiness to it, a willingness to be critical. I think Newt Gingrich, he is a very clever—as opposed to intelligent, I would say—guy for political strategy.”

A Gingrich candidacy would be great for Obama, in Frank’s view. “This man became Speaker in 1995, and less than four years later had to quit. He cannot run things, at least based on the evidence we’ve seen.”

Gingrich, Frank went on, “is a man of no public-policy commitments. He talked more about having ideas than about the ideas.” Gingrich’s explanation of his work for Freddie Mac was, Frank said, “gobbledygook.”

Elsewhere in the conversation, the Congressman said that, with the Dodd-Frank financial bill, “if a large institution is failing, it fails…. There are death panels in the legislation we passed in the previous Congress, but not, as Sarah Palin mistakenly said, in the health bill. It’s in the financial-reform bill.”

Frank saw less sense in Occupy Wall Street: “I don’t understand why some people think that simply being in a physical place does much.” Frank suggests that the O.W.S. protesters may enjoy cheering each other on more than engaging with problems, and asked why there were no voter-registration tables or campaigns to contact representatives.

Packer said that, based on his visits to Zuccotti Park, many protesters don’t believe the political process works. Frank replied, “That’s just stupid…. What works better? Standing in a park? How does that help?”

Frank plans to help, even in retirement, by working on issues he cares about from outside Congress. He said that he thought his words might have more meaning if spoken from beyond the Beltway. “There’s such cynicism now, that I’ll be saying pretty much the same things but with more credibility.”


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