North Andover — Barney Frank, the Newton, Mass., Democrat who represents the 4th District in Congress, announced this week that he will not seek re-election in 2012.
Frank added in his statement that the best part of deciding not to run is that he no longer has to be nice to people he doesn't like.
Well, Barney, that cuts two ways.
Frank's 30-year tenure in the House has been an embarrassment for Massachusetts and an economic disaster for the nation.
Frank's coming out as the first openly gay congressman was fine and should not have been a problem for a congressman of better character. But Frank let his personal life become an embarrassment that would have driven most others from office.
In the 1980s, Frank had a relationship with Stephen Gobie, whom he had met answering a newspaper personal ad. Frank hired Gobie as his driver and used his congressional office to help Gobie with minor legal matters such as parking tickets. Gobie, however, ran a male prostitution service out of Frank's Washington apartment.
When the story broke, Frank ended the relationship. The House voted 408-18 to reprimand him.
Through the 1990s, Frank had a relationship with Herb Moses, an executive at Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage guarantor. Frank and Moses were celebrated as Washington's most influential gay couple. Yet Frank's Financial Services Committee had oversight over Fannie Mae. Surely, the relationship with Moses created a conflict of interest for Frank. But Frank never conceded a conflict nor recused himself from oversight of Fannie Mae.
In 2007, Frank's partner James Ready was arrested at his Ogunquit, Maine, home and charged with marijuana possession and cultivation. There were marijuana plants growing in Ready's back yard. Ready paid a fine on the charges.
Frank was at the Ogunquit home at the time of the arrest. Laughably, Frank claimed he did not know the marijuana plants were there, nor did he even know what marijuana looked like. Frank has long been an advocate for marijuana decriminalization and has positive ratings from marijuana advocacy groups.
Frank's serial personal indiscretions should have been enough to sink any congressman's career. But Frank's growing seniority in the House soon meant he would be able to inflict damage on a national scale. . . .
Admirers cast Frank as a great "intellect" and source of "wit", suggesting the country no longer understands what those words mean. Frank displays all the "wit" of a 2-year-old's temper tantrum. In dismissing one critical constituent as "like arguing with a dining room table", Frank was not being witty, merely crass and boorish. . . .
So farewell, Barney Frank. The state and the nation will be better off without you.
North Andover, Mass.