Friday, September 04, 2009

Frankly, my dear, you're an a-hole

Like a lot of people I gave an internal smile of satisfaction when I saw the video a couple of weeks ago of Sen. Barney Frank chastising a woman at a healthcare town hall meeting.

Like a lot of people who lack the topical knowledge or just plain smarts to make a good argument, the young woman in the video resorted to likening President Obama to Adolph Hitler. It's pretty well accepted that once you bring up Hitler or Nazis, you've pretty much lost the argument (unless you're arguing about whether Hitler could take Macho Man Randy Savage in a WWE Cage match, then I guess the Nazi references would be appropriate).

But the young woman in question brought upon herself the Barney Frank tongue lashing. She deserved it, and maybe she'll find a different, more appropriate and clever metaphor for her poster at the next healthcare town hall meeting (assuming someone lets her know what a metaphor is).

So yeah. Nice to see Frank callin' her out.

But then as I thought about it a little more, I realized I was feeling a twinge of ... something. There was something, I don't know, not quite right about the whole exchange (I mean aside from the obvious ridiculousness of the entire affair).

Then I realized that it was actually Frank who lost. By engaging the woman in the caliber of conversation with which she tried to engage him, Frank actually lost. He didn't realize that in this kind of un-argument, you can't win if you participate. That's a surprise given his vast political experience.

He took the bait and lowered himself to the level of the ad hominem.

Then, a few days later I was listening to a Planet Money interview with Frank that managed to completely erase what little respect I still had for him.

Planet Money's Adam Davidson interviewed Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, about trying to come up with a non-partisan way to address reforms aimed at preventing the kind of financial and regulatory crap casserole that allowed the recent global economic meltdown.

Frank's response was that he doesn't believe in non-partisan solutions.

"We're not dealing here with arithmetic. There is never going to be a consensus answer to what happens. You're not going to get calm, reasoned, bipartisan investigation," Frank said.

Frank proved himself to be a partisan bully. This is why there's so little hope for our country. The people in charge at the highest levels see this as some sort of game. What's important isn't finding the best solution and the best policy. What's important to them is scoring partisan points for their team.

The attitude has filtered into most of the politically aware society. The actual policies are irrelevant. People only care about associating with one side or the other and the petty "victories" those sides achieve.

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  1. Guess what? I'm about 80% in agreement with you.

    I agree that most politicians are unable to view politics and policy battles as anything more than a game where score is kept by who wins and who loses, not what is best for the country.

    But I think Frank was right to tell her she was an idiot.

    Otherwise, how is she ever gonna know if somebody doesn't tell her?

    Call it a public service.

  2. Barney Frank is yet another blathering Massachusetts politician. In fact, until 7 years ago he was the politician who blathered on my behalf in the US House.

    I've followed Barney's political career very closely. What I've found is that every once in awhile he shows flashes of absolute brilliance, followed by long stretches of inane meandering hackery.

    From my libertarian standpoint, about the only good thing he's worked towards in the last three years is trying to get the internet gambling ban repealed.

  3. That reduction of everything to a partisan sport - where proponents often don't know what it is they supposedly believe, just that it isn't what the other side believes, whatever that may be - is what ruined virtually all attempts at political conversations for me when I lived in the US.

    Not being a supporter of either side (though carrying a bias in favour of one side) the unwillingness to seek middle ground, to compromise, to see that maybe you don't agree with everything the side that's wearing your colour shirt does - well it rendered conversation all but pointless except for a couple of noble cases.

    Both sides were as bad. It's very annoying to agree with someone's conclusion when they won't show you their work.

  4. I'm afraid I can't agree with you either. Frank didn't ask for it, but he didn't run from it either. He certainly handled himself better than that meek party shifter a few weeks before, allowing everybody to tonguelash him.

    The only thing I thought other than that she was a moron, is that she'd look very cute in one of those right wing tee shirts always being advertised on the mindless blogs. Ya know, like the one wearing the tee that says, I survived Roe v Wade?

    Naw I like Barney. He's feisty. Though it woudl have been nice if he'd seen the financial crisis before it happened! He could have blown the whistle but sadly he went along with the republicans. Not so good.

    Well Pixie's not THAT cute, but hey!

  5. I lost any respect I had for Congressman Frank when he refused to co-sponsor Nadler's new bill to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

    DOMA is the single most homophobic piece of shit legislation ever passed at a federal level, but as the leading gay federal legislator he won't lift a finger to repeal it? Seriously...WTF?

    Every gay American deserves the opportunity to kick that dickhead squarely in the sack for being such a complete quisling.


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