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A Frank Conversation with Retired Congressman Barney Frank

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Barney Frank was a very effective legislator, the first member of Congress to come out as gay, the first to marry a same-sex partner; and he led the charges to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and to expand marriage equality.Frank is on a book tour to promote his fascinating memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, and this podcast is the audio from a TV interview that PBC co-hosted with Larry Strick.  The video package will be available soon, here.

We open with the marriage issue, noting that Frank opposed the 2004 move by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to issue licenses to same sex couples.  Frank thought it would set back the process that had started with a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.  He comments on his former colleague, Mike Pence, now in the hot seat as Governor of Indiana and signer of the “religious freedom restoration” law.

Frank is a proud pragmatist, and offers an example of how activists sometimes demand too much and get nothing. He talks about his early years in Boston politics, and says his short attention span was an asset.  He comments on the change in tone and partisanship he experienced over his 42 years in Washington, and singles Newt Gingrich out for blame.

As a staunch supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, his predictable comments about Hillary in 2016 are somewhat offset by his acknowledgement of her hawkishness.  As a central player in the 2008 meltdown and bailouts, he does regret that no Wall Street criminals were prosecuted.