Barney Frank, (photo courtesy of Peg O'Connell)

Barney Frank, (photo courtesy of Peg O’Connell)

Thursday, October 14, Congressman Barney Frank spoke at a Brookline Chamber of Commerce dinner held in the Founder’s Room at Pine Manor College. His presentation went over well with friend and foe alike – an uncommon thing in today’s political climate.  It is rare these days to find a politician who will share their candor and independent thought with voters. You can agree or not with Congressman Frank’s position on the issues, but it’s hard to disagree that even after serving this area for 30 years in the House of Representatives and 8 in the Massachusetts Senate before that, Barney Frank is a breath of fresh air.

He started the evening by noting many of the active members of the Chamber were local banks and realtors, and remarked upon the positive impact these groups have had on the state. He then moved from issue to isssue with the ease of someone in total command of the subject matter. I got the impression the Congressman doesn’t have a lot of aids telling him what he thinks or what he “should think”. Congressman Frank presently serves as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, but based upon this evening, I have to say his interests and expertise encompass just about everything that could affect those in his voting district – the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say his interests include everything except touting Barney Frank. I’m pretty sure he never even asked us to vote for him. He seemed to treat self-promotion like it was a waste of his and our time.

After completing his talk, Congressman Frank stayed to answer every question. When the formal part of the evening was over, he was one of the last to leave, making sure that anyone who wanted to address him had the opportunity to do so.

The Founder’s Room at Pine Manor College is spectacularly ornate, and it’s a place more suited for your best behavior than intimacy. (This is especially true when you’re eating while wearing clothes you don’t want to stain, like me.) In any case, though, the Congressman made us feel at home, even though technically he was the guest.  His manner made it easy to see why many think of him as “Barney” rather than “Congressman”.

Listening to Congressman Frank actually reminded me of listening to my Dad every night at the supper table while I was growing up. Think about it, when was the last time someone said a politician reminded you of their dad? They don’t say it,  if they like their dad, anyway. He knew what he was talking about, felt comfortable in his own skin, knew he deserved our respect, gave it to us straight, and cared about the people in that room. I think he also reminded me of my dad because neither of them looked too comfortable in a suit, but that’s neither here nor there. I liked it. Made me feel good. Made me feel like we actually voted for a guy all these years who earns his paychecks.

I know some of you who live on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Congressman Frank probably want to let me have it. If so, please feel free to share your comments. We welcome all views here. I’m just telling you I went to see the man and I liked him.

R. Harvey Bravman