Rep. Frank calls for the 'sanity' and 'civility' of Dem control of Congress

Retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), known for his sharp tongue and scathing whit, made a fundraising appeal Thursday for Democratic control of Congress.

"Winning a Democratic majority in the House, along with maintaining a Democratic Senate and re-electing President Obama, are absolutely essential to continuing the significant advances that we began in 2009 and which were later blocked by the arrival of the Tea Party," Frank said in a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising email.

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“Ousting the Tea Party and wresting control of the House away from the Republican Party is the single most important step we can take to restore civility – and sanity – to the American political system,” Frank said.

Frank, who has served in the House for 30 years and will leave at year's end, has become a liberal standard bearer, in part, for co-authoring the financial reform bill and for his unwavering support of same-sex marriage. For the same reasons, he also ignites the ire of conservatives.

A regular fixture on cable news, Frank established a reputation for dressing down his opponents. Some of his sharpest and most memorable lines have come after first being attacked. During the 2008 healthcare debate, for example, a constituent compared the proposed healthcare law to Nazi policies. 

“It is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated,” Frank responded. “Madam, 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.”

During the GOP primary earlier this year, Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich said Frank should be jailed for his role in the financial crisis. 

“When you think you are the intellectual leader of the free world and you find yourself struggling to pass [Rep.] Michele Bachmann [R-Minn.] in a poll in Iowa, it is unsettling,” Frank responded. “I understand that the poor man isn’t getting his due.”

Frank has also on occasion gone after members of his own party. In a Democratic member vs. member race this year in California between Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, he endorsed Berman and called Sherman “superficial” and “headline hunting.”

Frank said that, after retiring, he wanted to remain in the political debate and has signed with a talent agency. He said he plans to give speeches, write a book and possibly teach.