Monday, November 28, 2011

Farewell to Barney Frank

I first heard of Barney Frank when I was a relatively new Legal Services lawyer back in 1981. It was the first year of Reagan's presidency, and also the first year Reagan tried to implement his war on the poor by killing off the Legal Services Corporation. We heard that the appropriation for Legal Services was going to be taken up, so a few of us went to watch the debate on the floor of the house on C-SPAN, which was also brand new at the time.

Although Frank was a new congressman (it was his first term), he was the floor manager for the Legal Services appropriation. I was completely impressed. He was pretty much everything you see when you see him today: smart, prepared, funny, and completely unwilling to back down from a fight.

We won the funding debate, and even in a year when Reagan was getting Congress, under Tip O'Neill, to give him just about everything he wanted, he never succeeded in destroying legal services for the poor.

In the last thirty years Frank has always been a strong voice for working people and those exploited by the powerful, big money interests that have come to increasingly dominate our government.

What has made him so popular, though, is not just his unapologetic liberalism, but also the pugnacious and witty way he disemboweled the other side.

Other people will have their favorite Frank moments, but I'll just close with this one:

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