National Commentary

Barney Frank’s Backbone

bentonmugOn “Meet the Press” last Sunday, a Republican opponent of health care reform praised Sen. Arlen Spector for handling the near riot at his town hall meeting with respect and decorum.

How curious. While the mainstream GOP, the arch-rightwing and the lunatic fringe are marching in lockstep to the tune of the health industry’s clarion call to kill reform, unleashing every scandalous lie, hysterical rant and scurrilous image to achieve their goal, they praise the other side for sitting there and taking it politely.

First of all, let there be no doubt, the cool and methodical efforts of groups such as Media Matters, and even the AARP are powerful antidotes to the bellicose and shameless in-your-face bullying by the health industry’s shock troops.

Make no mistake, however, it goes way beyond just the health industry. Everyone who has signed onto the devil’s compact as a devotee of greed, the nation’s primary religion since the 1970s, is having a hand in the effort to block this health care reform.

Their mantra is the free market and deregulation. They had their way without restraint for eight years until last January, and what they had to show for their effort was the near total meltdown of the global economy, an outcome that may still result.

They’re reverting again to the tactics of big lies and intimidation that served them well for so long. Somehow, total devotion to the demon of personal greed tends to unplug internal governors that might otherwise limit one’s willingness to revert to pure thuggery and horseshit to get their way.

It is all too close to what the psychological profession has identified as a “socio-pathic personality disorder” for years. It is very difficult if not impossible to cure, according to the general professional consensus, and involves individuals who simply do not have an internal mechanism to limit the extent of their lying, deceit or willingness to harm others, even for only modest gains. To put it in lay terms, they lack a conscience.

Such bullies count responses like Sen. Kerry’s to the lying “swift boat” attacks in the summer of 2004. Namely, polite silence.

And while a healthy dose of facts is vital to expose the lying excesses of these types, it is hitting back, and with force, that is far more effective.

That’s what was so refreshing about Rep. Barney Frank’s brilliant psychological counterpunch to a Lyndon LaRouche tool at his town meeting in Massachusetts Tuesday night.

The exchange has been all over the news and the Internet, and it’s as if everyone is so shocked that someone who is standing for health care reform that will benefit almost every American should get a little heated while eloquently and forcibly snapping back to defend his position against deceitful bunk.

When asked why he “supports a Nazi policy” by the LaRouchie, who was holding up a flier showing Obama defaced to look like Hitler, Frank retorted, “I will resort to my ethnic heritage and answer a question with a question: on what planet do you spend most of your time?”

He then said “to compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis” is “vile, contemptible nonsense,” concluding, “Trying to have a conversation with you is like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.”

Everyone guilty of disingenuous misdirection of the debate on health care reform deserves the kind of response that Rep. Frank provided. Moreover, it is important that they get it.

Bullies can only function in an environment where their actions are not seriously challenged.

The enemies of health care reform are not going to relent. As top Republicans are now lying that Obama’s plan is an “attack on Medicare,” and that they admit they don’t  favor requiring insurance companies to provide coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions, something more than 75 percent of Americans want, it is time for the proponents of reform, and of simple truths for that matter, to learn from Barney Frank and his backbone.