With it looking like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts is going to leaving the Senate in order to become the new Secretary of State for the 2nd Obama administration, recently-retired Congressman Barney Frank is openly expressing interest in the job, with a number of progressive groups strongly supporting the move.
For the progressive/liberal wing of the Democratic party, already strong in places like Massachussetts, this would be a very smart move. Although the job would apparently only be for an interim of 3 months, it would certainly help energize the progressive base. Frank claims he wouldn’t want the job longer than that, although it would surprise me if he could not easily win a general election in Massachusetts if he wanted to. There’d be no doubting he’s got the experience and that his values are in line with most voters in his state. And since he’s only 73 years old this year, he’s certainly got more productive years ahead of him if he wants to, most likely.
There’s a nice bonus to all this for the new Junior Senator from Massachusetts too; Elizabeth Warren, sworn in for her first term as a Senator just a week or so ago, will vault from Junior to Senior Senator from her state after only a few weeks in office if Kerry does indeed leave (which he probably will). Interestingly enough, she’s already hired Barney Frank’s former chief of staff, and having Frank himself on the floor with her would probably give her a leg up very quickly in learning how to work with the Congress, even if Frank only stayed there for a few months as the Junior Senator. That said, the two would probably make a formidable pair for the state if Frank stayed on for longer.
I’m certain conservative Republicans are looking on all this with disgust, but then, they’ve got their own heroes and interesting people to look at; Texas’ new Senator Cruz, a Cuban-American, is already making waves. It feels like this election year, in a lot of ways, the Congress is changing. Of course, it is the Great American Tradition to hate the Congress, and it would be surprising to see a leadership change any time soon, but in the Senate at least, it appears we have a growing number of young mavericks, with a new generation of post-Baby Boomers slowly taking the reins. As a post-Boomer “Generation X” person in my 40s, I’m glad to see that happening. A new generation is coming in, and I’m glad of it.
In any case, a Senator Barney Frank, even if only a few months, should be an entertaining spectacle, as the old warhorse from the House comes in and, not feeling like he’s got anything to lose, says what he really thinks while advising Massachusetts’ brash new young Senator on how to learn the ropes. I don’t think a freshman Senator could be in a better position than Warren’s in right now: fresh from an exciting victory while running a brashed, unabashed liberal progressive campaign and winning, vaulting almost straight to Senior Senator, and with the advise and help of very seasoned Washington insiders to help learn the ropes quickly. I predict Senator Warren is going to be formidable once she gets her feet under her, and that this won’t take long at all, especially if she has someone like Frank to act as a temporary lightning rod for her.