Barney Frank: "The Most Outspoken Man in the House"

Jeffrey Toobin profiles Congressman Barney Frank, the most important figure in the House of Representatives involved in legislating solutions to the financial crisis.

Having served in the United States House of Representatives since 1981, Barney Frank '61, J.D. '77, finds himself the "wise guy and wise man of the Democratic Party," according to Jeffrey Toobin '82, J.D.'86, whose profile, "Barney's Great Adventure," appeared in the January 12 issue of the New Yorker.

Frank, Toobin reports, is the subject of a forthcoming biography by Stuart E. Weisberg titled Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman. The subtitle gets at the attribute that initially made Frank well known in mainstream America: his decision, in 1987, to reveal that he is gay--the first such voluntary coming-out by a member of Congress. Now, Toobin writes, "For the first time in more than 40 years of public life, Frank has real power," reflecting his expertise in housing and finance and his role as chair of the Committee on Financial Services. In that capacity, he has led negotiations with the Bush administration on legislation to address the housing, banking, and automobile industry crises.

Toobin ends by quoting Frank on the challenge ahead: "You know Hegel. Thesis: No regulation at all. Antithesis: Now the government owns the banks. What I gotta do next year is the synthesis."

Toobin's most recent book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, won the 2008 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize.



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