THE SHORT FORM
Today is Barney’s birthday.
I can’t tell you how old, but divisible by 5 and 10 and I’m almost certain he’s older than I am – and I’m old.
It would be terrific if you wanted to chip in with a gift. Not only will it make him smile (and how often do you see THAT?) . . . it will help him get the truth out (see “the long form,” that follows).
THE LONG FORM
I’ve stood in awe of Barney Frank since he was a resident tutor, debating my fellow undergraduates at lunch and dinner (did anyone get up for breakfast?) with a wit and energy that left these one-time valedictorians helpless with laughter and hewn by logic.
All of us knew he loved politics, and knew equally well he could never be IN politics – though he’d be perfect for the cigar-filled back room – because he was not, shall we say, politically coiffed (“Neatness Isn’t Everything,” read an early campaign poster).
And there was the matter of his mouth, a [bleep]ing [bleep]storm of profanity.
And there was the other thing, which would not have occurred to anyone else but eventually dawned on me. His eyes were going the same place mine were.
That Barney is now, on this big birthday, widely acknowledged to be one of the most formidable orators in Congress, a pivotal figure in shaping the nation’s financial future, and a steely-tough public advocate on the issue we both once kept so deeply secret, makes me burst with pride at knowing him. (Charles will tell you I burst too easily – “don’t gush,” he has been known to say – but here it is justified.)
I marvel at Barney’s brilliance and courage . . . whether it be when he comes right back at Dick Armey for “mispronouncing” his last name (the former Majority Leader, you may recall, pronounced it “fag”) or when he and his partner Jim walk with dignity through a crowd of health care opponents loudly mispronouncing it the same way.
So in any circumstance, I’d want to send Barney a birthday gift.
But as it happens, this year he actually needs one.
A few days ago, I got the letter that follows. If you’re on his list, you probably got it, too.
I’d urge you to share it with YOUR list, and invite them, too, to chip something in to show support for his decades of leadership and public service, and to help him keep fighting for the principles many of us share.
Here’s the link . . . www.actblue.com/page/Barney.
And here’s the letter . . .
Surprise! I am asking you for money. But there is a little variety in this request, which is almost certainly one of a series you have gotten from me over a number of years. I have usually written to acknowledge that I was not in dire need of campaign contributions, but I did note that I needed some funding.
This letter is different. I do not think I am going to be defeated. But I have been the target of a concerted smear campaign aimed at tying me down so I am less able to do the work necessary to pass legislation to prevent another financial crisis and to protect our economy. The Washington Post called the bill we passed in December “the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system since the Great Depression.” I was pleased that Paul Krugman wrote that it made needed changes to our financial system and that it was an appropriate response to the crisis.
Here is an example of why I need your support. In November, John Fund, a member of the extremely conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board, about me in a speech. He announced that I was sponsoring legislation to allow every breathing adult in the United States to vote whether or not they met a whole range of eligibility standards, including whether or not they were in the country legally. This, Fund said, was part of a broader scheme by liberals to win elections fraudulently. His statement was not a misquote; it was not taken out of context; it was not a misreading of a more complicated piece of legislation – it was a lie with no factual basis whatsoever.
The fact that this claim was completely fictitious did not prevent it from being echoed by Mr. Fund’s fellow right-wingers – Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, the Reverend Moon’s Washington Times, and many right-wing blogs. I learned of this when I had some constituents angrily ask me why I was supporting this. I said I not only was not a sponsor of such legislation, I had never heard of such a bill. When my staff investigated further, they found no evidence of such a bill in either the House or Senate.
I exposed this example of the right-wing propaganda machine in a speech on the floor of the House on February 3rd, 2010, both to defend myself, but also to call attention to this right-wing pattern of introducing a lie and then repeating it in various media outlets.
This is of course not the only complete inaccuracy about me that is being propagated. I find myself given extraordinary powers that I did not know I had to influence Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay, since part of the right-wing effort to derail financial reform is that the crisis was not caused by financial irresponsibility and a lack of regulation, but rather by a liberal plot to push more and more low-income people into loans they could not afford. Apparently, we accomplished this in various legislative ways from 1995 to 2006 during which the Republicans of course were in total control of the House. The fact that in 2007, when I first became Chairman, we quickly passed a tough bill regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (as noted by Bush Treasury Secretary Paulson in his book) makes no difference to the right-wing machine.
This barrage of inaccuracy obviously has had an effect in my own district as well as elsewhere. Unfortunately, refuting multiple and repeated lies takes money. That said, I have greater need for help this year than I have had in some time.
So I write you today unlike in my previous letters asking that you contribute as much as you can. I promise that I will use the money not simply to refute the torrent of misinformation aimed at me, but also to expose this pattern of right-wing propaganda which has, unfortunately, been met with too little fight back from its victims. The right-wing has, I was told in 2008, decided to make an example of me because of their unhappiness with my advocacy on a range of issues. I willingly accept that challenge, for it is one of the most important battles of this decade. But it will take money for me to do it effectively and so I ask for your help.
DCTH closed at $8.42 yesterday, up from $5.37 (or $4.61) when first mentioned a couple of months ago. My advice: don’t sell.