Victory & Grace: A Contrast in both Style & Substance

There are lots of good reasons why lots of good people deeply dislike long-time U.S. Congressman Barney Frank; so many that exposing his victory speech this Tuesday night seems a bit like piling on. Yet, there it stands: a testimony to his character. Sore losers can be embarrassing enough, but what to make of such a sore winner?

Here is Frank in full Barney mode: self-serving, self-pitying, self-absorbed, self-righteous; with nothing better to say after being elected to a 16th term (if my math is right) representing the people of Massachusetts than to take pot shots at his political adversaries, and turn the screws of partisan division with whatever facts or fables might be at hand.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this to me is the fact that he was opposed by a candidate who conducted himself as a gentleman – just a solid, decent guy. Sean Bielat focused the campaign on Frank, to be sure, but he stayed focused on the legitimate issue of Frank’s recklessness and ideological blindness in his comically poor oversight of Fannie May and Freddie Mac just before their notorious collapse – as well as on his long-standing support for the misguided social engineering policies that predictably produced the massive mortgage defaults at the low end of the housing market which finally drove the economy over the edge three years ago. I guess Frank considers being held accountable for the consequences of one’s public acts & policies to comprise a smear campaign. Unfortunately, too many voters in MA-4 must, too.

As for the “tone” of the overall campaign atmosphere created by the rest of the Republicans in Massachusetts, maybe I don’t frequent the same places Barney does, but I, after having been pretty well plugged in to the process for the past two years, have no idea what he is talking about. Granted, I don’t watch much TV, but the only candidate I saw that was really skewered by the Republicans was independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill – a relentless negative ad campaign underwritten by the RGA (not the Republican candidate, for all that’s worth) that I think ultimately undermined Charlie Baker’s campaign by both focusing on the wrong problem, and making Baker look mean. But the real smear campaigns, as far as I can see, were run by the Democrats! The only real “beneath the dignity” smear campaigns I came across were nasty ad hominem attacks against attorney Bill Hudak, who ran for Congress in MA-6; Sandwich State Representative Jeff Perry, who ran for Congress in MA-10; and (with slightly less vitriol involved) Framingham’s Mary Z. Connaughton, who ran for State Auditor. All three ran as Republicans.

Regardless of what had transpired, if our civics are going to be conducted in at all a civil manner, legitimate election outcomes need to be accepted with a certain amount of graciousness – especially victories, for crying out loud. The cantankerous old man with the forked tongue could take some lessons in personal behavior from the young man who just won election to the U.S. Senate from Florida: Marco Rubio. I see Rubio as one of the real bright lights emerging from the conservative wing of the Republican party, along with folks like Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, newcomer Congressman-elect Allen West from FL-22, and maybe even Sarah Palin – though she’s pretty heavily damaged goods politically because of the “dumb bimbo” narrative applied to her, yet she’s still very effective at producing the results she wants – the big dummy!

Anyway, here is Rubio’s victory speech Tuesday night. You could hardly construct a more polar contrast to Frank’s contemptuous screed. He begins by graciously acknowledging his adversaries – with some particularly kind words for the Democrat challenger – and then he goes on to humbly call his constituents – not just his circle of supporters! – to a united common cause of committing our society to its future generations. Barney Frank, I pray you’re taking notes:

But then again, perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect a man whose values include explicit support for the legalized killing of inconvenient children to take seriously an invitation to build a society ordered toward the well-being of children…