Famous for wit and bile, Frank leaves long legislative record

BARNEY FRANK, who announced his plans to retire from Congress yesterday, hasn’t been everyone’s idea of a gentleman. Landing into opponents with his verbal jujitsu - a trademark mix of facts, wit, and bile - Frank was tailor-made for the cable-TV era. It is easy to admire him, or be offended by him, on the basis of his debating skills alone. In a conservative era, Frank has defended liberal values on principle and also on pragmatic grounds. He can cut through the fog of conservative ideology and values-speak better than any Democrat of his times. But he hasn’t always been nice about it.

To remember Frank primarily as a bare-knuckle debater, however, would be to ignore his lengthy legislative record. For at least three decades, he has been one of the prime movers of financial-services legislation, affordable-housing bills, and civil rights provisions, particularly those ensuring fair and equal treatment for gay Americans. As the nation’s most prominent openly gay politician, he has been a target for narrow-minded critics. But he responded with the steel required of a true civil rights pioneer.

Your comment is subject to the rules of our Posting Policy

This comment may appear on your public profile. Public Profile FAQ

We hope you've enjoyed your free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com