Conservatives were electrified yesterday by news that Barney Frank had taken $200,000 from his own pocket to help fund his re-election campaign against insurgent Republican Sean Bielat. Having covered the Bielat campaign, however, I’m not entirely surprised by Frank’s plight:
Hey, when a congressman and his heckler boyfriend fly to the Virgin Islands aboard the private jet of a hedge-fund billionaire in the midst of an economic apocalypse the congressman arguably helped cause…
Do you really need polls to tell you that might hurt his chances for re-election? Yeah, I know it’s Massachusetts, but the economy’s in a ditch, and Barney’s up there sippin’ on a Slurpee, so to speak.
There may be limits even to the credulity of Massachusetts liberals.
Now, before anyone screams “homophobia” for my reference to Barney’s boyfriend (“partner” being the politically correct term), let’s point out that gay conservatives like Daniel Blatt are fed up with having Barney Frank as the Official Gay Political Poster Boy — in much the same way that black conservatives get tired of being told Al Sharpton speaks for their “community.” (Ask Allen West or Charles Lollar about that.)
Barney Frank and some other Democrats appear to be on the verge of learning the hard way that the appeals of identity politics and partisan loyalty can be stretched beyond the breaking point, as Brian McGrory of the Boston Globe explains:
For the last three decades, the political establishments in Boston and Washington have excused Frank’s consistently obnoxious behavior as Barney being Barney. Maybe they’ve done it because he was unique as an openly gay congressman. Maybe it was out of deference for the way he unapologetically and effectively carried the flag for the most liberal of causes. Maybe it was out of fear that he’d train his quick wit and substantial intellect against anyone who happened in his path.
But now voters are looking to D.C. and wondering what has gone wrong in a city and a system that is having such a hard time getting things right. The same character flaws that were forgiven in good times might wear thin when times are tough.