There are many reasons we love Barney Frank, the charmingly disheveled, wittily brilliant, gay, Jewish Democrat who represents Boston’s ritzy suburbs in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the latest is this: At a town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, last night, he provided an object lesson in how politicians should react when confronted by nutso constituents making lunatic Nazi comparisons about President Obama’s health-care reform proposals. “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?” asked his normal-appearing but apparently deranged interlocutor. His response, if you haven’t already seen or read it:
When you ask me that question, I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time? … You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler, and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis. My answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining-room table; I have no interest in doing it.
Are you listening, Arlen Specter? (Yeah, OK, granted it’s easier to be contemptuously dismissive of your wingnut constituents when you haven’t faced serious—if any—opposition in a quarter-century and won your last election 68 percent. But still.)
Rep. Barney Frank Slames Women Comparing Obama To Hitler At Town Hall [YouTube]
Barney Frank Goes Toe to Toe at Health Care Town Hall [CNN]
Jesse Oxfeld, a former executive editor and publisher of Tablet Magazine, is a freelance theater critic. He was The New York Observer’s theater critic from 2009 to 2014.