Anyone who made the easy prediction that the Associated Press would fail to bring up Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in its fawning tribute to Barney Frank after his retirement announcement yesterday was correct. Anyone making the easy prediction that the AP would lionize him as a "gay pioneer" was also spot-on.
Also predictably, the wire service's Bob Salsberg and David Espo failed to mention that Frank advocated abolishing Fan and Fred as a dishonest survival tactic during his final reelection campaign in 2010, and of course did nothing visible to make that happen this year. What's really odious in this regard is that the AP pair gave him credit (pun intended) for how he "worked to expand affordable housing," when the Community Reinvestment Act-driven subprime crisis Fan and Fred engendered has sent the housing market levels not seen since World War II. What follows are excerpts from the AP. After that I have a few contrary and clear-headed paragraphs from an Investor's Business Daily editorial, and a little reminder of a 1999 "Present" vote which should have generated controversy, but didn't:
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Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a gay pioneer in Congress and a Massachusetts liberal whose name as well and fingerprints are on last year's sweeping bill regulating Wall Street, announced plans Monday to retire at the end of his current term, his 16th in Congress.
"There are other things I would like to do with my life," the 71-year-old lawmaker said at a news conference. He added that his retirement plans were hastened by two years by reapportionment, which moved 325,000 new constituents into his district.
Frank's career has traced an arc from early promise to near career-wrecking scandal to legislative triumph, accompanied by a quick-witted intelligence and an often partisan and frequently acerbic speaking style.
... his career nearly ran aground because of his personal life.
Two years after a voluntary 1987 disclosure that he is gay, Frank had to explain why he had hired as a personal aide a convicted drug user and male prostitute, Steve Gobie, who was also living in the lawmaker's apartment. He said he always paid the aide out of personal funds, but the House ethics committee recommended Frank be censured for using his congressional status on behalf of the man, including seeking dismissal of 33 parking tickets.
... As a longtime member of the House committee that oversaw the banking and housing industries, he often worked to expand affordable housing and end redlining, a practice in which banks are accused of imposing onerous lending conditions on residents of inner cities and other poor neighborhoods.
As chairman in 2008, he was a lead Democrat in drafting $700 billion legislation that President George W. Bush supported to bail out financial institutions.
A year later, with Obama in the White House, he turned his attention to a far-reaching bill to overhaul regulations covering the banking and financial industries.
Investor's Business Daily's editorialists are having none of this, and appropriately place blame where it belongs:
Loved by media, Barney Frank Helped Cause Financial Crisis
Establishment media are swooning over the unexpected departure of ultraliberal Barney Frank. But this "champion of the little guy" actually helped cause the mortgage disaster, then kept the system broken.
'Congress will now be a little dumber," was the kind of nonsense we heard from the mainstream liberal media after Frank, D-Mass., former chairman of the House Banking Committee, said no to running for re-election next year.
... he wasn't smart enough to realize that the politically correct poisoning of mortgages would lead to a calamity rivaling the Great Depression. "I, like many others, did not see the crisis coming," Frank said Monday.
He sure didn't. Back in 2003, what did he say when the Bush administration proposed what the New York Times described as "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago," including a new agency to supervise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
Frank said: "The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."
... Manhattan Institute scholar and "After the Fall" author Nicole Gelinas warned before Dodd-Frank's passage that the law "encourages wild risk-taking — and penalizes prudence" by making well-run banks pay to bail out poorly run ones.
... Making sense of Barney Frank's departure isn't hard. A once-powerful liberal who loved to make congressional witnesses look dumb, he leaves a legacy of failure that, with time, makes him look dumber and dumber.
As to the vote teased earlier, the year was 1999. Talk radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger was deeply troubled by the American Psychological Association's 1998 publication of a 30-page article in its prestigious Psychological Bulletin which in essence stated that pedophilia really wasn't that bad and doesn't really inflict the kind of negative outcomes on its underage participants we have come to believe. She, her listeners, and many others, in my view accurately sensing an attempt to begin "mainstreaming" pedophilia, got the attention of Congress, which drafted a resolution condemning the APA's publication. The roll call vote was 355-0. Barney Frank and twelve other Democrats, including Congressman Ted Strickland, who would later become Ohio's governor, voted present.
Unlike Strickland, who incredibly went to the floor of the house fifteen days later and in essence denounced 355 of his colleagues as liars for supporting the resolution ("One of those Commandments says, you ought not to bear false witness against your neighbor. When we say things about an organization or about an individual scientist that are untrue or unsubstantiated, in my judgment, we have violated that Commandment"), I found no record of Frank's justification for his "Present" vote.
It would seem that a "gay pioneer" like Frank might have considered the implications of not taking a stand. As Mary Eberstadt wrote in the Weekly Standard in January 2001 ("Pedophilia Chic' Reconsidered"):
... contemporary efforts to rationalize, legitimize, and justify pedophilia are about boys. ... The reason why the public is being urged to reconsider boy pedophilia is that this "question," settled though it may be in the opinions and laws of the rest of the country, is demonstrably not yet settled within certain parts of the gay rights movement. The more that movement has entered the mainstream, the more this "question" has bubbled forth from that previously distant realm into the public square. ... many, many leaders and members of that movement draw a firm line at consenting adults, want no part of any such "debate," and are in fact disgusted and appalled by it. Then there are other opinions.
Barney Frank had a clear chance to make sure everyone knew that he isn't among those with "other opinions," and didn't. Was it lack of courage, silent agreement with Strickland that 355 of his colleagues were liars, or sympathy with those "other opinions"? I guess we'll never know unless he deigns to tell us.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.