Until recently, I never thought particularly highly of Bill O’Reilly. I found him boorish, self-important and a bit arrogant. He didn’t seem to allow his guests to express themselves. But, then once, I saw a bit of a conversation he had on the issues raised by the Terry Schiavo case. I was impressed at how well he understood the complexity of the situation.
Later, I saw (and read) portions of his interview with Hillary Clinton, again, tough but fair. It helped elevate my opinion of that Democrat whom I didn’t much care for. And he was aggressive in pursuing Obama for his non-answers in their exchange.
But, not until I saw him confront Barney Frank did I full appreciate the TV host’s style:
Despite being one of the major players on the House Banking Committee, Frank did little in his tenure to push for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To be sure, he did get his reform bill through last year, but he’d been blocking reform going back at least to 1992, one year after he moved in with a Fannnie Mae executive.
In the summer of 2003, when “Freddie Mac’s multibillion-dollar accounting scandal” became public, the Massachusetts Democrat said, “I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis.” Later that year, he claimed Fannie and Freddie posed no “threat to the Treasury.”
Yet, when O’Reilly confronted him, Frank attempted to shift the blame to Republicans and the Administration. Barney leaves out how frequently he thwarted the Administration’s numerous pleas for reform. To be sure, given the scope of this crisis, there is much blame to go around. And many Republicans deserve considerable opprobrium.
Their responsibility for this mess pales in comparison to the Massachusetts Democrat.Â Indeed, few Congress have as long a record of blocking reforms at Fannie and Freddie as does Barney Frank. (Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd may have a claim on that crown.)
At this time of year, we Jews examine our past, look at our mistakes and seek to correct them. Barney seems to have forgotten the spirit of the season; he won’t acknowledge any responsibility for the current mess. Kudos to Bill O’Reilly for calling him on that failure.
In any other industry, someone would a record like Barney Frank would have long since lost his job.
It’s simply amazing that this man who was so for so long spectacularly wrong on Fannie and Freddie’s financial health seek to pass judgment on Republicans who tried to do something to reform those two government-sponsored enterprises before their collapse posed a threat to our Treasury (a threat that Democrat dismissed).
For his past mistakes alone, Frank should step down as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.Â His failure to take responsibility provides one more reason we shouldn’t have this man as the helm of this important committee as Congress attempts to fix teh current mess — and prevent it from ever happening again.
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