Washington has to contemplate politics without Barney Frank. He isn’t a part of any bygone era or living metaphor for the state of American politics. He is one of a kind: a thoughtful, informed advocate of his position, unapologetic yet always honest when he was in the crosshairs. Not everybody liked him, but everyone thought he was effective. And that will be his legacy.

Republicans always wanted to use him as a social and liberal lightening rod, but on TV, and in front of a crowd, his humor, humility and fearlessness came through. In recent years, Republicans had learned to avoid a tussle with Frank. It was best to leave him alone.

He is formidable, and Republicans found it could be a belittling experience to match wits with him. News talk shows could find it difficult to book a GOP sparring partners for Frank. My own quick research suggests that the last Republican politician to appear on national television, head-to-head with Frank may have been Rep. Ron Paul — talking about Afghanistan, in 2010.

Republicans aren’t just delighted Frank is leaving, we are relieved.