I do have certain… I'm good at some things, bad with others. I'm good with words. That may be it.
It could be because I'm unconventional. I have some colleagues that are much better people in private than they are in public. I want to say, 'Be yourself.' You get to be a certain point of success in politics and people say, 'Okay, now you have to change, now you have to do something different."
I talked to [JPMorgan CEO] Jamie Dimon about you yesterday and he said, "The guy you see on TV is the same guy in private."
A lot of my colleagues aren't. And you lose. One, it's harder to do and you become less interesting. People censor themselves and filter themselves and I think that's a part of it.
The other thing is, Look, I'm lucky. There are some things that I'm terrible at. I've had three relationships with men in my life. They are three different guys but I can hear all of them saying the same thing, "Barney, don't touch it." I break things. I get frustrated. I have no manual dexterity. I'm not good at it.
The luckiest thing for me was from that standpoint was I got into a line of work that plays to my strengths and not my weaknesses. Including the district. I'm not a great candidate. I'm a better inside politician than outside politician.
I've won and I'm better at it, but it's not my natural strength. But I'm a good performer. Sunny Bono and I used to talk about similarities between performing comedy and entertaining in politics, in the sense of the centrality of an audience.
You aren't just good with words in totality. You are good with words in that moment. Very few congressman can keep up with you.
I'm lucky. I think quickly. Compensation—I'm now going to be writing a book or two and that's going to be tough. That's one of the reasons that… I was determined to retire when I was still sentient because I want to write. There are things I want to say. I have a great respect for the written word, that's a part of me that I always want to deal with.
[The late Sen.] Pat Moynihan could write books and be a senator at the same time. I can't do that.
As much facility as I have orally, I have none of that when it comes to the written word. I have to really sweat. I work at it. The organization — I always want to say too many things at once.
What was your lowest point during the housing crisis?
The most frustrating part for me was after we got it done, and one angry moment I had with Hank Paulson was his refusal to use the authority to do more mortgage modifications.
I just saw this slipping away, I tried hard and I couldn't do much.
How hard did you have to work to pass Tarp?
The hardest part physically was selling it to the Democrats. I worked very hard. It was going to happen. I was fully supported by Nancy [Pelosi] and others. The Democrats, as I said, there is more bipartisanship with a Republican president and Democratic Congress because we believe in governance.
Now they used to too. Bob Dole certainly did. Dennis Hastert did. Even [Tom] Delay understood it — this crew does not.