Who better than Barney Frank to lecture on civility? MSNBC on Friday turned to the man (who previously mocked gay Republicans as being like “secret Jews”) to discuss the problem of tone in Washington. The former Democratic Congressman appeared to tout his op-ed in Time magazine.
MSNBC Live guest host Morgan Radford offered this softball: “I also want to talk, not just about the issues, but tone. Because that's a lot of what you're describing in this op-ed. What would it take to bring civility back?”
After Frank decried Donald Trump’s “nastiness,” the host added, “So, what's the difference between nastiness and strong words?” Finally, seeming to acknowledge reality, she noted, “When you were in office, you were not afraid of a fight yourself.”
That’s one way to put it. In 2006, Frank compared gay Republicans to “secret Jews,” presumably during World War II and the Nazis. On April 16, 2013, just a day after the Boston Bombing, the former Congressman politicized the attack and blamed it on cuts in spending:
You know, it's very fashionable these days for people in my former line of work to brag about how they cut government, reduce government. Well, I'm glad that they weren't as successful as they wanted to be. This is an enormously expensive undertaking.
He’s also gone on Fox News to trash the network. Some might call all of this... nasty. But not MSNBC.
A partial transcript is below:
MORGAN RADFORD: I want to interrupt you there for a minute because I also want to talk, not just about the issues, but tone. Because that's a lot of what you're describing in this op-ed. What would it take to bring civility back?
BARNEY FRANK: For Mr. Trump to say he was willing to work with us. I was shocked when he complained that the Prime Minister of Denmark was nasty to him.
RADFORD: You were shocked?
FRANK: That he felt that because she said an idea was absurd, which it was, that somehow you can't talk to America that way. This is a man who has set the record for nastiness, for abuse. Interesting, by the way, his wording. It was, “You can't talk to America like that, especially under me.” I don't think most of us think of ourselves as being under Mr. Trump. But no president in history has done as much vicious abuse of other people and now he's complaining, “Oh, my God. How can she say I'm nasty?” You look at the words he said and there's no comparison.
RADFORD: So, what's the difference between nastiness and strong words? Because the reality of it is when you were in office, you were not afraid of a fight yourself. You didn't back down from one. You had the Dodd-Frank moment, the health care moment. Would you do anything differently?
FRANK: When we had partners we worked with them. I am proud, if you read the memoirs of George Bush appointees Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson, they supported a cooperation we gave them. But you can't have unilateral disarmament. Look what happened under George W. Bush. You saw cooperation. They were ready to do that the Democratic leadership under Trump. And he had no interest or nor capacity for it.