Newburyport Daily News
---- — Big Freddy was grinning as only he can grin when I joined him for our midmorning coffee and whatever might follow.
“I take it you won one somewhere,” I said as I wedged myself into my side of the booth.
“And you are misreading the cause of my delight because it has nothing to do with the track, and everything to do with the outcome of Barney Frank’s post-Washington future,” Freddy said. “One thing’s for certain, he’s not going quietly into that good night of political retirement.”
“Well, he didn’t get very far down that road by asking our governor to name him for Kerry’s seat so he could spend a few months in it before taking to the speaking circuit,” I said.
“By catching Patrick off balance with his ‘How about me’ as a temporary fill-in for old time’s sake and a political footnote?” Freddy asked.
“Which winds up with photo coverage of both of them laughing,” I said.
“Standard cover for moments like that,” Freddy said. “Laughter keeps the future open.”
“What future?” I asked. “Barney’s made no secret of his need to make some money because he certainly didn’t come away with much — all things considering what he could have done legitimately on the side during his 32 years in Congress.”
“There is that,” Freddy said. “He has some feelers out there for public speaking and whatnot to feather a reasonably comfortable nest in the private sector because he didn’t do much of what others have done as sidelines while representing their districts.”
“He’ll be good at it,” I said. “But Barney being Barney unleashed could be giving some of his former colleagues political dyspepsia.”
“Showing and telling as he sees things is what he’s been doing come hell or high water, and he’s not likely to change,” Freddy said.
“But he’s nobody’s fool when it comes to keeping his eye on the tiger, and we’re headed for survival in an economic jungle of what’s ahead. Our grandchildren are going to be dealing with it before it’s all said and done.
“Barney having at it in Congress would be one thing, but Barney on the road will be something else because he won’t have to deal with political protocol.”
“That could be whether he has further political ambitions or just wants to go not too quietly into that good night,” I said. “That brings us back to his pitch to Patrick for filling Kerry’s seat as a senator with all the benefits that would follow.”
“It does, and it would contribute to his marketable image,” Freddy said.
“But the two of them wound up laughing,” I said.
“Because both of them knew where each of them was coming from and where they hoped to get to over uncertain political terrain,” Freddy said.
“For whatever it is in moments like that, laughing is the best of covers for your health — physical or political — because it leaves all doors open.”
Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist for The Daily News.