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Barney: I don't love you, you don't love me

Barack ObamaBarney FrankHitlerNazitown hall

Barney Frank, Barack Obama Hitler,Nazi, town hall It may not rank with Winston Churchill's response to Lady Astor, but Rep. Barney Frank's broadside today -- launched at a protester carrying a sign depicting President Obama with a Hitler mustache -- was about as entertaining as comebacks come in today's political scene.

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank asked during an appearance to discuss health care reform at a Massachussetts senior center, in answer to a woman who asked him why he supports a "Nazi" effort to extend health coverage to all Americans. If Frank had ended with just this zippy one-liner it would have made a nice clip for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," but there was more: "Ma'am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining-room table. I have no interest in doing it." Commenting on her Hitler sign, he noted that it was "a tribute to the 1st Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated."

With similar town hall meetings across the country being interrupted by raucous protesters who can't seem to decide whether Obama is a Nazi or a socialist (and clearly failing to understand the meaning of either), this is the kind of response that has doubtless occurred to many reform advocates, but it took the famously scrappy Frank to rip away the filter between his thoughts and his vocal chords.

Is that a good thing? The criticism of pro-reform Democrats is that their wonky, Spock-like approach to this complex issue has been undermined by conservative activists whose simple, emotionally charged slogans are a lot easier to understand than the nuances of the public insurance option. Put another way, the Democrats see the reform movement as a policy debate, while Republicans see it as a political slug-fest. Frank may be the first Democrat to seriously slug back. That will no doubt thrill his Democratic base, but in such a close political battle the stances of people on the left and right don't matter as much as those in the middle. And rudely insulting a protester at a senior center probably isn't the best way to win hearts and minds in the heartland.

-- Dan Turner

Photo: Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., leaves a town hall discussion on health care Tuesday. Credit: Darren McCollester / Getty Images

 

Comments () | Archives (18)

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Common Sense

I watched the whole Town Hall and have to say I am so proud of my congressman I want to jump out of my seat. Health care reform is worth fighting for... and I'm very glad to know that Mr. Frank is on the side of the people and not the mobs.

Mr. Frank addressed all the misconceptions and lies out there quite well and clearly. I'm glad he made such a witty comment back to the whack jobs comparing Obama to Hitler... what a lazy and inaccurate comparison. America is better than the mob - the real America gets involved in public discourse, not mumbo jumbo with no factual basis

Thanks Barney - I will vote for you again :)

B truth

To the first comments, what state do you live in? Massachusetts state healhcare is FAILING. Don't believe me:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/03/02/mass_healthcare_reform_is_failing_us/

Did Barney Frank talk about that?

jerry

I like how BF supporters overlook his role in the banking failure and teh brothel he had run out of his basement. This guy is like every other pol.....actually worse. He is sleaze that is arrogant and is why term limits should exist, idiots in Mass elect this guy and it effects the entire nation. I am sure you'll reelect patrick too. liberal yank suckers.

Bobby Iwabucci

FYI, Rachel Brown is a DEMOCRAT and staff attorney in the Elder Unit of the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts here:

http://www.laccm.org/about/staff/rachel-brown

Rachel is active in LACCM’s Community Lawyering and Litigation working groups, and is a co-chair of the Worcester County Bar Association’s Committee on Services to the Poor & Homeless.

Rachel is deeply concerned about the "death panel" provisions encouraging end of life medical practices to save money.

The Obama posters come from the website of wacko left-winger Lyndon LaRouche.

Tom

This seems completely unambiguous to me. Envoking Nazis when describing Obama's healthcare reform is so far beyond contemptable, and so utterly ridiculous, that Frank's response is the only appropriate one. To answer otherwise is to suggest her premise is credible. Instead he demonstrated that she lost the argument the moment she opened her mouth. We can have legitimate policy debates but this is beyond the pale.

Funny, when I legitimately thought and commented that the Iraq war was going to be an unmitigated disaster, I was labeled unpatriotic and even treasonous. By those standards, what would you label this woman in Mass?

Mitchell Young

Maybe if you media folks would put some facts about the plan -- if there is a plan -- out there in easily digestible form you drive out some of the 'bad' argumentation. Then you could actually get down to analysis, asking things like how the insurance companies can underwrite everyone, regardless of preexisting condition, without a real mandate that everyone -- health or not so health -- buys a policy? That might lead to the next logical question, which is, how is the mandate going to be enforced? Doing a very little web research on this, I get a bunch of articles from 15 months or so ago, basically the Obama camp savaging H. Clinton for her quite realistic view that mandates, you know, have to be made mandatory.

Really guys, all this rainbows and unicorns stuff about 'extending health insurance to all Americans' has got to stop. When California has about eighteen percent of drivers without auto insurance, despite that mandate being relatively enforceable and relatively cheap, how many people are going to skip out on the this Obama mandate that we all get health coverage? And won't a large non-compliance rate queer (in the original sense of the word) the whole 'plan'?

Mark Zika

Mr. Frank is the same congressman that ran a brothel, then the "Page BOY scandal" in Washington. Anyone remember the 17 year old page boys that were "personally assiting" Mr.Frank? So I would like to know on which planet is it OK to have sex with 17 year old boys and still retain your job?
All while the boys were working for the US gobernment. I am glad he keeps in all "in House"?

Jon Healey

Mitchell, arguing that "nobody's discussing the substantive issues because the media haven't laid them out for us" doesn't cut it. There's an unbelievable amount of journalism on healthcare reform. I set up a google reader account just to handle healthcare related stuff, and I get about 100 pieces a day. And I'm barely scratching the surface of what's out there, particularly from policy analysts and bloggers within the healthcare industry (think tanks, doctors, insurers, etc.).

You raise good questions about noncompliance. I suspect this issue hasn't gotten much attention yet because insurers haven't complained about the enforcement mechanisms in the bill. They're the ones with the most at stake, right? They've trained their fire on the public option, while supporting the general framework of the bills. Anyway, either the board will take up the compliance questions or I'll do a blog post on the issue.

PJ

I didn't see Frank as "rudely insulting" the Larouche PAC woman. He simply put her Nazi comments and Obama as Hitler poster in context. As a middle leaning Dem, I was relieved to see a politician stand up to the outright lies and staggering ignorance being shouted at these town meetings. It saddens me that fear is once again being used to keep people from acting in their own best interest. Basic health care for all Americans--that's somehow Un-American? It's very sad indeed.

Matthew

It's about time someone stated the obvious: the Obama-Nazi meme is utterly crazy and beneath contempt. And suggesting a gay Jew would support Nazi policies is just insane to the point of ridiculousness. The only way to stop the madness is to call it what it is--if the media won't do it, I'm glad someone will.

And to the folks who are mad that the "Page Boy scandal" didn't force Frank out of Congress, may I humbly point out: David Vitter, John Ensign, and Larry Craig, none of whom were forced from office by the "family values" party.

Also, Frank was never personally implicated in any wrongdoing (unlike the others).

Shannon Jacobs

Barney Frank annoys me some of the time, but on this one he was spot on. The columnist may think otherwise, but I expect the entire thing to make the Daily Show. I only wish they could do a split screen with the lunatic's face starting to foam at the mouth.

Okpulot Taha

I feel so inadequate. With that handful of marbles Barney Frank keeps in his mouth, how do any of you understand a word he says?

Well, at least none can accuse Frank of having lost his marbles although I believe he has long back; Barney knows where his marbles are, right there under his nose.

Okpulot Taha
Choctaw Nation
Puma Politics

Stan

Frank does not own his ethnic and religious affiliation, as a matter of fact he is embarrassing his tribe, and not just by his open homosexual lifestyle. And for those who do not remember: וְאֶת זָכָר לֹא תִשְׁכַּב מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה הִוא

It is perfectly acceptable for a protestor to compare Obama and his health policies to Hitler, since the history of 1930s Germany is repeating itself right here, in the United States of America. Perhaps the primary scape-goats are no longer "Jews", but don't be naive, they are in subcontext in this administration under the terms such as "Zionist", "neo-conservative", "Lawyers", "Doctors", "Madoffs" (trust me I heared this in a few speaches given by congressmen calling their ideological opponents this name, etc. But the primary reason this administration is like Hitler -- the people follow it blindly the great orator with questionable substance.

Serginho

Enough with trying to 'convince the heartland'. Trying to 'convince the heartland' to come around on healthcare reform is a losing proposition; you stand the same chance of convincing them that the Earth is round.

How about convincing the coasts, where people who actually want to live in the 21st century, are located?

William

Can't understand the "difference" between Nazis and Socialists, when Nazi is shorthand for National Socialist? There is no difference. That's why the Soviet Socialists and the German Socialists had an alliance -- far more than a pact, we now know -- before World War Two. Barney Frank was oddly silent for eight years of comparing the last president to Hitler, so, I can hardly take him at face value. Especially when the only people holding these disgusting signs up of this president as Hitler are supporters of six-time Democrat presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche.

So, the failure is yours, Dan, not these LaRouchies. Hitler was a socialist, who learned from the socialist Mussolini and from Marxism. It was a different brand, but no less than the New York Times ("Stimulus Thinking, and Nuance," April 1, 2009) compared Obama's stimulus plan favorably to the Nazis and said we shouldn't shy from references to Hitler simply because it ended in genocide.

But it'd be so much harder to think for yourself and write your own column. Much easier to just repeat. Oh, and there's no "may not" about Frank ranking with Churchill. Nothing he ever has said or ever will could possibly come close. Also, Churchill never let anyone run a prostitution ring out of his offices or fixed tickets. Frank is an unbelievably vile politician. It's just too bad these crazy LaRouche Democrats make one root for him!

Alex

For Serginho: good try, but Hitler and Nazism were not "socialism" nor "communism". You can twist and stretch history and words but the fact is that Nazism is a political movement from the far-right (and no, far-right and far left are not the same thing).

Alex

Stan, you share with Hitler his hate against homosexuals ...

theleviteline.com

"And rudely insulting a protester at a senior center probably isn't the best way to win hearts and minds in the heartland." Let's see, this #*&@! comes with a sign comparing Obama to Hitler and Barney Frank, a gay Jew nonetheless should be concerned about insulting her? What kind of spineless imbecile says such a thing. Meanwhile the rest of your piece seemed to defend Barney Frank. Is this the ol' tryin' to cover all bases crap. Kind of like hearing from the right and left, as if that is balance. It is evil vs. good. And in this case, Barney Frank is the 'good'. This right-wing pig-eating pagan (aka Christian) can go to HELL along with the rest of the cowards who stand with her, even if it's only to cover all their bases.


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