04/08/2009 (9:08 am)
Take a look at this video from Fox 25 in Boston, in which a Harvard student stands up and asks a simple question of Rep. Barney Frank (D, MA) after Frank’s speech. The question was simple, but called for a soul-searching and candid response: “How much responsibility, if any, do you have for the financial crisis?”
Rep. Frank took the question as a personal assault, and immediately attacked the student as though he had made an accusation. His defensiveness on the subject demonstrates not only that he does feel some responsibility, but that he’s not willing to talk about it.
I’m having some difficulty embedding the video. I’ll try to fix it later, but for the moment, you’ll have to visit the local TV station’s site to see the video, at the link at the top of this article (and here it is again.) It’s just over 5 minutes long.
The question that Frank asks in reply — “What is it that you think I should have done, beginning in January 1, 2007, when I became chairman, that I didn’t do?” — is unfair to ask of the student. The student was simply asking Frank to discuss candidly what he did and did not think was his responsibility, and Frank’s response attempted to shift the burden off of himself and onto the student. It’s an effective polemical tactic. It’s also cowardly, defensive, and inappropriate. The student attempted for a while to refuse the burden, but eventually fell into the trap.
Rep. Frank is on tape before January 1, 2007 defending the acts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as legitimate, during a period when 1) it was already clear that highly-placed executives at Fannie and Freddie were cooking the books in a manner very similar to the shenanigans that put top Enron execs in the clink; and 2) Fannie and Freddie were well on their way to becoming the entire secondary market for sub-prime loans. If he had acted responsibly at that time, several executives would have gone to prison, the market for sub-prime loans would have dried up several years before the crisis, and it’s likely that the deflation of the housing bubble would have caused a much lesser impact.
To answer his question, though, what Frank should have done after January 1, 2007, when he became chairman, that he did not do, is resign. He was involved in a sexual relationship with one of the highest-placed executives at Fannie Mae and had a clear conflict of interest. Don’t even try to tell me he didn’t realize this was a conflict.
Whether or not this Harvard student knew how to address Frank’s guilty but carefully-executed defense, he was asking the right question. Rep. Barney Frank is one of the single individuals most directly responsible for the current economic mess, and no amount of blame-shifting onto some imaginary right-wing conspiracy is going to change that. Frank’s own conscience, obviously, is telling him exactly that.
1 Comment »
Comment by RM
And will Barney Frank get called for his nasty, weak, and mean spirited behavior?
No, obviously not, because he is getting a total pass from the media on his role in this mess. And if he gets a free pass on being, at a minimum, a useful idiot in a very serious economic crisis, they sure aren’t going to call him to task on something like this.
He is protected because he is a liberal Democrat, because it it unPC to criticize him, and because he has very cunningly created a persona with his nasty behavior that he wields like a club whenever he is threatened. And his media allies grin, shake their heads admiringly, and congratulate him for being an “underdog” who is courageous enough to speak blunt truth to power, or some similar pap. Ugh. Sorry to vent, but some of these guys are simply beyond the pale, and they are the first ones to throw stones at others.
(Author notes: I called him on it. For some reason, though, he didn’t notice.)