Barney Frank, one of my favorite members of Congress, takes on the conservative trope (offered by Congressman Eric Cantor) that the current US financial crisis stems from the federal government allegedly forcing banks to loan to un-creditworthy African-Americans and Hispanics in the 1970s.
Frank, who represents a district in the Boston area, is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. A few years ago he said:
I’m gay, left-handed and Jewish. So the option of simply fitting into the majorities has never really opened itself…
One of the problems you have in politics is people don’t ever want to disagree with their friends. Politicians get a lot of undeserved credit for standing up to their enemies. It’s not only easy to stand up to your enemies; if you’re a politician, it’s generally profitable. The hardest thing to do is to stand up to your friends when you think they’re wrong.
I’m a great believer in partisanship. The problem with partisanship is when it blinds you, and you apply double standards and you let your party off the hook. Yeah, I prefer the Democrats to the Republicans on all the issues, but I think that gives you an obligation to speak out when the Democrats do something wrong. I’ve also felt that my colleagues overestimate the consequences of saying what is considered unpopular. What, is someone going to hit you?