Wanted: Smart, courageous, savvy individual for temporary posting. Location: United States Senate. Experience: track record of experience in complicated political settings with record of success in achieving goals. Education: longtime immersion in complicated policy challenges with particular expertise in military budgeting and entitlements. Skill sets must include ability to work collaboratively with people across the political spectrum, move disparate individuals toward practical compromise, and avoid institutional game playing.
Former (as of five days ago) Congressman Barney Frank should be at the top of Governor Patrick’s list to fill the seat of Senator John Kerry when Kerry is approved as Secretary of State. Is Barney sometimes a pain in the butt? Undoubtedly. Can he be irascible? Absolutely. Rude? Yes. But I do believe there is no one better suited at this crucial time to hold the interim post.
Some have suggested former governor Michael Dukakis. Others, Vicki Kennedy. But this is not time for a sentimental choice, however wonderful as individuals they may be. In less than two months, the debt ceiling must be lifted so the government can pay its bills for past expenses. There will be a battle royal over spending cuts that will occur automatically if there isn’t a solution to the deficit crisis. If the battle fails at resolution, the government could actually shut down for a period of time. Even if it is just a few days, that will have an effect on our economic recovery and financial markets.
Barney knows the military budget inside and out and has been, with Republican Ron Paul, pushing for reasonable cuts in outdated programs rooted in the Cold War. He is unexceeded in his ability to cut through the Beltway bloviation and identify and argue for what needs to be done. In addressing needed entitlement cuts, the liberal former congressman could be the Demecratic equivalent to Nixon going to China. He’s absolutely committed to Social Security and Medicare, but knows where reasonable changes could be made.
Nearly two years ago, the Congressman told the New England Council that “there is waste everywhere in government, but it’s not layered around the edges and able to be easily trimmed. It’s marbled throughout the system and requires careful cutting. But that requires hard work, and is not susceptible to ham-handed demagoguery.”
He was right then. He is right now. He is absolutely right for the position of interim United States Senator. Governor Patrick shouldn’t allow disquiet with Barney Frank’s maverick, occasionally unpleasant personality to deter his becoming, for just a few months, Massachusetts’ next U.S. Senator.
I welcome your comments in the section below.