Barney Frank’s Pushback: “On What Planet Do You Spend Most Of Your Time?”

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

This must have been fun:

Steve Benen comments:

There was no defensiveness, and no anger, just someone who knows what he's talking about making someone who doesn't look like a fool.

Matt Yglesias raised a terrific point: "Voters don't have a great deal of knowledge about the issues, or a great deal of interest in acquiring knowledge about the issues. But they are human beings, equipped with our species' excellent ability to read the emotional states of other human beings. If they see a politician acting defensive about his 'side' in an argument, they conclude that this critics are probably on to something. If they see a politicians acting outraged and hitting back fearlessly, they're likely to conclude that he has nothing to apologize for."

Quite right. A low-information voter, with only a passing familiarity with current events, might catch an exchange like this one. Which of the two people in this clip — the crazy person or Barney Frank — comes across as credible?

I realize that Frank has the benefit of serving in a safe Democratic seat, in a highly-educated area. Vulnerable Democratic lawmakers may not feel comfortable openly ridiculing random lunatics who ask stupid questions like Frank did.

But the point is, reform advocates can show this kind of confidence and certainty that nonsensical beliefs are nonsensical beliefs.

Yes, Barney Frank is a representative from liberal Massachusetts, and his pushback isn't going to hurt him politically.  But why can't vulnerable Democratic lawmakers exhibit this pushback behavior as well?  I think you lose as many votes by catering to the crazies as you do by calling them out.

Incidentally, Sean Hannity and Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) (The World's Shittiest Elected Official ™) tut-tutted Frank's behavior.  But they didn't show the actual clip, and they didn't mention the Obama-Hitler sign seen in the clip.  Heh.