The sometimes-combative senator has good news: An era of partisan gridlock may be ending.
Over his 30 years in Congress, Barney Frank has waged more than his fair share of partisan warfare, happily raining acid quips on his Republican foes along the way. This is a man who derided moderate GOPers as "reverse Houdinis" who "tie themselves up in knots and then tell you they can't do anything because they're tied up in knots." He once compared tangling with a conservative heckler to "arguing with a dining room table." As he announced last year that he would not run for re-election, he made sure sure to slip in a dig at his longtime nemesis, Newt Gingrich, telling the assembled reporters he would "neither be a lobbyist or a historian."
And yet, as Frank prepares for his political retirement, he seems oddly upbeat about the chance that Democrats and Republicans will soon find a way to move beyond the ideological gridlock that has hamstrung Washington's ability to govern.
Speaking with the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin today at the Washington Ideas Forum, he said that in his view, today's hyper-partisan Washington is only a recent advent. In 2007 and 2008, he pointed out, Congressional Democrats worked with the Bush administration to pass a stimulus bill aimed at fixing the faltering economy, put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under government conservatorship, and implement the bank bailout.