House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is considered to have excellent taste in clothing and appearance. Rep. Barney Frank, who announced last week he will retire from the House of Representatives, less so.
So in recalling Thursday some memories of the colorful Frank--as well as the gruff former Rep. David Obey, Pelosi offered reporters this anecdote:
"I was now the new Ranking Member (top Democrat) on Foreign Ops (House foreign operations panel). Now, when I was outside the Congress, you know, carrying pickets, Russians, Soviets out of Afghanistan, going to Central America, end the war. To me the most important place in the world was the Foreign Ops Committee of the House.
"They could stop the funding of all these things or make policy—not policy, but statements that related to our national security and human rights throughout the world. So to be the Ranking Member on Foreign Ops—never—it was one of those things I never expected, but this, that, and that and that and, you know, that around here, there I was, and when I came to Congress, I said does anybody know anybody on Foreign Ops because I want to talk to that person. Now I am the Ranking.
"So I go to make my first bill on the floor, managing the bill. I wasn't the Chairman, but we worked very closely together. Our Chairman, Sonny Callahan from Alabama, was just wonderful. We worked very closely together, but we had some differences, one of them being international family planning. Here we go again.
"Anyway, so I come to the floor, I have on a suit that I hadn't worn before and now mind you, Dave Obey had been the Chairman of that committee for, like, 13 years. He knew every semicolon, dot, everything in the bill. So he is the Chairman of the committee—no…the Ranking on the committee. It is his baby. You know, he thinks of this as his bill.
"I go to the floor, the first person I ran into is Barney Frank. Barney Frank, he says, 'That suit, give it away, give it away. Don't wear that suit anymore.'
"So I do the bill. I get everything accomplished that I set out to do. I was so proud. David is sitting there where David sits there and David says to me, 'You did what you came to do, you got the job done, but you could have been more diplomatic.'
"So I said this is really my day. I'm getting fashion advice from Barney Frank and diplomacy advice from Dave Obey. Can you imagine? Can you imagine?"