As someone who has herself borne the brunt of a verbal tirade by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and who has never been a fan of the way he feels entitled to speak to people as if they are pond scum, I come forth, nevertheless, in the congressman’s defense after his takedown of a woman at a health-care forum in his home district Tuesday night.

She had brought a picture of Barack Obama defaced with a Hitler-like mustache, an utterly absurd, if not uncommon, prop for the opponents of the president’s reform plan. She asked Frank: “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?”

The congressman, for an uncharacteristic moment, stood saying nothing. And then: “When you ask me that question, I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time?”

And then: “It is a tribute to the First Amendment that this vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.”

And then: “Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table, I have no interest in doing it.”

Frank may be mean, but he’s not wrong there.

Watch the exchange.