Barney Frankly Speaking

If there were any Democrats out there who might be leery of hosting a town hall meeting right now, they should watch highlights of one conducted this week by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

Frank gets a lot of flak in the talk radio world, which I always find somewhat amusing, because he is by far one of the best lawmakers to deal with when it comes to getting a good quote, or hearing a good joke at the expense of another member of Congress.

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?" he asked in mock indignation to a woman who said the Democrats' efforts on health reform would lead to a "Nazi" plan.

"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," Frank said to applause and howls from the audience.

Really, Frank reminded everyone on all sides of this debate that you can take on critics from the Left & Right with a little humor and lot of knowledge about the subject at hand.

Too often, lamwakers are able to get away with fuzzy statements and broad observations about issues, because those asking the questions wouldn't know a bill number from a duck's bill.

But on this one, people know there is a section on end-of-life issues.  They may not know the section number, but they've heard about it.

At one point, when Frank shot down talk that the illegal immigrants would get certain benefits from the health reform bill, he pointed out the section.

It's one thing to say something, it's another thing to pick out the page in the bill in order to make your argument.

And maybe therein lies the lesson for our 435 members of the House and 100 Senators.  Know your subject.  Don't just give out the same old party line.  And be specific.  Very specific.

It might just make sense as well to get in touch with some comedians and see what they do when they get heckled by a crowd member.

The ole standby, "I remember when I had my first beer," probably won't work, but I'm sure they can offer some ways to use some familiar tricks, like "dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire."

Frankly speaking, you may as well be on the offensive, especially if your audience is too.

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