June 1, 2016 at 4:51 pm EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Sanders’ shameful attack on Barney Frank
Barney Frank, gay news, Washington Blade

Barney Frank (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Barney Frank is a hero of mine. He has hero status by dint of his accomplishments for the LGBT community and the nation. He authored and succeeded in passing Dodd/Frank legislation, which helped to reign in Wall Street. You would think Sen. Bernie Sanders would respect that but alas he is now attacking Frank’s character and questioning his ability to be fair.

The same Sanders who was welcomed into the Democratic primaries even though he isn’t a Democrat. The same Sanders who is losing and keeps whining about things being rigged and unfair rather than admit he is losing because three million more Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton than for him and she is nearly 300 pledged delegates ahead. If he were in elementary school he would be labeled a crybaby — instead he comes off as a whiney old man.

Even as an unabashed and passionate supporter of Clinton, I have always given Sanders credit for beginning his campaign with grace and focus. He brought the issues of affordable college and income inequality to center stage in the debate.

His latest attempt to attract attention to his flagging campaign was to send a letter to the Democratic National Committee asking that Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Barney Frank be removed as co-chairs of the Rules Committee. The DNC responded quickly and in essence told Sanders to “go fly a kite.”

People can say many things about Frank but never that he isn’t honest and fair. I have known him for many years and like many brilliant people he can be cantankerous at times. He often finds it hard to make small talk. He has a reputation of not abiding fools and finds it hard to listen to people who don’t get to the point.

Frank is of my generation having grown up in era when being “out” was a clear way to guarantee you weren’t going into elective politics. He made a conscious decision to stay in the closet and devote his life to improving the lives of others and helping other elected officials behind the scenes. He was eventually convinced to go into elective politics himself and won time and again because constituents understood how smart he is. When he finally came out they continued to support him knowing there was no one better to represent them.

Frank always tells the truth. He was speaker at a Town Hall in D.C. It was surprising to see his name on the program as he rarely did this kind of thing. He was his usual funny and slightly testy self as he began his talk. He answered a number of good questions and then an elderly woman asked if he did these kind of town halls often in his district. Barney thought a moment, looked at her and said, “Of course not, why would I do that and listen to people who know less than I do question me? They get their chance every election to throw me out and so far they think I am doing a pretty good job for them.” People roared with laughter.

There were attacks on him when in 2007 he brought an ENDA bill to the floor without including transgender people in it. He spoke passionately about the bill on the floor to his colleagues and for the first time ENDA passed the House. He felt it was an important statement to make and including transgender individuals in it at that time guaranteed it would fail. He took the heat for that. Looking back that debate was another galvanizing point for moving the LGBT community forward. It spurred the transgender community and their allies to begin to organize and in the long run it pushed groups like the Human Rights Campaign to make strong commitments to transgender civil rights.

We are living in a different world today than we were in 2007. Barney Frank has a lot to do with this brave new world where same-sex couples can marry and where the LGBT community and our allies are more united than ever moving us toward full civil and human rights.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist.

  • The depth and breadth of Hillary Clinton’s lifetime of experience makes her one of the most-qualified presidential candidates in the last 100 years.

    So that Bernie Sanders’ chose to make a sexist attack on Hillary in Philadelphia on April 6th– incredibly, calling her “unqualified” to be president– was shocking and reckless.

    That bit of outrageous, glass-ceiling mudslinging was *strike one* against Sanders’ candidacy, in my book.

    What I noted at the time, was a thoughtless, sexist, free gift to Trump’s campaign, has now been gladly accepted by The Donald.

    Trump now happily echoes that Sanders’ ‘Hillary-is-unqualified’ attack in his campaign speeches. Trump even boasts that “he gets his best lines” against Hillary from Sanders. So now Trump can quote Sanders all the way through November 8th.

    Thanks, Bernie. Down ballot congressional Dem candidates thank you, too, I’m sure.

    But now, Sanders’ campaign thinks they have not been tough enough on the majority of Democrats backing Hillary– that they have not thrown enough bombs at us, apparently.

    So Sanders and his attack-dog operatives have decided that attacking and discriminating against a true LGBT hero at the Dem National Convention is a smart move, as well.

    Not so, Bernie. All your mean-spirited, reckless attacks are doing is dissing and pissing off the very people whose equality rights you claim to champion. It is self-serving hypocrisy of a high order.

    Strike two.
    We are living in a different world today than we were in 2007. Barney Frank has a lot to do with this brave new world where same-sex couples can marry and where the LGBT community and our allies are more united than ever moving us toward full civil and human rights.**

  • The issue is not Frank’s record on LGBT rights, but that he has consistently attacked the Sanders campaign. Frank, like many other progressives, thought that Clinton was the only Democrat who could win and a challenge to her in the primaries would weaken her going into the election. (See Frank’s article, “Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie” (July 22, 2015). So Sanders has every reason to question whether he would be fair to him. Ironically what has divided the party is the continuous attacks on Sanders and particularly his supporters.

    • Respectfully, I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, Nick– especially regarding your claim that Democrats (non-Sanders fans, presumably) have attacked “particularly” Sanders supporters.

      With few exceptions, most critics of Sanders have acknowledged, with respect, Sanders’ supporters as part of our common Democratic and/or progressive family.

      As the date of the article you cite suggests, it has been a vigorous, year-long+ presidential campaign debate. There is everything right about that in Democratic Party traditions.

      However, it is clear who the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party is, now. It is also clear what candidate and what party poses a grave threat to our country.

      As Hillary did in 2008, the time is nigh for Bernie Sanders to comport himself as a progressive patriot in common cause against the wolves at America’s doorstep…


      • BTW the presumptive candidate was determined by the powers that be before the primaries were began. What a farce and the people still buy into the idea that our votes in really count. Where have you been? You don’t see that the democratic establishment, HRC supporters, MSM, the corporate elite, have all been opposed to Bernie in every way possible. Are you in a state of denial about what is fair or are you trying to kiss up to Bernie supporters in hopes that we will come on over to the establishment side? We are not buying what you are selling. Senators has been snubbed by anyone who thinks they will lose in any way with Sanders as President. We used to have rules that required that all candidates got the same amount of media time. Instead we have endless amounts of time devoted to the GOP candidate.

      • The Clinton campaign has presented a narrative of Sanders supporters as misogynist, racist, loutish “Bernie Bros,” who troll the internet, throw chairs at stages and frighten people for their lives. They used a similar narrative for “Obama Boys” eight years ago. That I think has caused Clinton’s favorability ratings to fall among these supporters, rather than Sanders pointing out her support of the Iraq War, the Patriot Act and Wall St. banks, all of which was public information.

    • There are so few progressives in the dems. establishment it is laughable. I would never call Frank a progressive. Hs LGBT fight was personal so of course he would support that. But the money which he has a lot of is personal too and he is part of the elite self serving millionaires.

  • Oh for god’s sake, Barney is on the board of a BANK accused of FRAUD currently and embodies the politician who had courage in the beginning but SOLD OUT. Get your weak identity politics out of my face, Bernie has stood for LGBT rights his entire career.

  • “Self-appointed President Bernie Sanders” has that hint of desperation about him now attacking anyone he thinks will oppose him. I imagine his attacks on Hilary are no better than those of chief big mouth Donald Trump. But Sanders poses a worse threat now than does Trump to Hilary’s nomination. Did he not state recently that if Hilary wants his people to come over to her should she win the nomination she would have to get them on her own? That’s a not so veiled threat from Sanders that if Hilary gets the Democrat nomination he will do nothing to help her win the Presidency. Pride, Bernie, goes before a fall! You will not be forgiven.

  • Barnie IS a hero to me as an LGBT man.
    Bernie is a hero to me as a progressive. Who cares if they don’t like each other?
    I still like Barnie and I’m still voting for Bernie

  • What a stupefyingly simple opinion piece. “Frank always tells the truth”: Mind-readers always make me feel better, thanks. Unfortunately this honest genius has stated he wants to keep money in politics. This puts him directly at odds with the new progressive movement that Bernie is currently leading. Bernie complains when Clinton-supporting state officials reduce voting locations, cause hundreds of thousands of registrations to be lost, party affiliations to be switched, and convention processes to be ignored. If that’s “whining like an elementary school crybaby”, then I’m sorry but you need your reality adjusted. Barnie Frank is an avowed Clinton-backer, it’s no surprise that Bernie would want a more open-minded person on the Rules Committee.

  • Barney Frank has become one of the top1%. He doesn’t care about us and he loves the money in politics that has made him wealthy. It is good that he worked hard for LGBT rights but what about the other humanity issues like income inequality. He is a corporatist and centrist enough said. When people act like Bernie is just prideful and that is why he keeps moving forward. We the supporters of Senator Sanders want him to stay and fight and even run as the green party candidate if he doesn’t get the Dem nomination. The Dems and Repubs are very close to becoming extinct. The people are catching on and want real change.

  • So Bernie Sanders thinks that the rules and structure of the Democratic Party are unfair and biased against his candidacy? Well he is, half-right. The rules of the Democratic Party which produced nominees such as JFK and Barack Obama would seem to be patently fair, but they are in fact intentionally biased against a rogue candidate such as Sanders. The Super Delegate structure was put in place to do exactly what it is doing; to prevent a poser from usurping the nominating process. The rules committee is acting as it was designed as well. None of this is a surprise to Bernie, he has used this as the basis for his stance eschewing party affiliation for nearly 40 years. Barney Frank is not Bernie’s problem. Sanders problem is his own ego.

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