9/27/2005

Frist, Do No Harm

He likes to remind people that he’s a medical doctor. In fact, he prefers to be known as Dr. Frist rather than Senator Frist. He’s already announced that he will not run for the Senate again in 2006, and he’s widely expected to be looking at a run for the Republican nomination in 2008.

However Frist is not well-respected by the Republican rank and file. During a conversation with John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics, Hugh Hewitt expressed amazement at his poor performance. Polls show Frist lagging his other potential competitors. His leadership of the Republican Senate majority has been marked by a consistent pattern of missed opportunities, defeat and disappointment. He has been anything but an effective leader. He continually backs away from confrontation—even confrontations he could win.

I’m sure he’s a personally likeable fellow. His good works have been well documented. And he’ll forever have my gratitude for knocking the pompous windbag Jim Sasser out of the Senate. But he just hasn’t shown himself to be the kind of leader that would make a good President. Of course the Senate hasn’t proven to be a strong farm system for the Presidency. Only two men were elected directly from the Senate to the Oval Office in the last 100 years. I don’t see any likelihood that Frist will be third.

The medical axiom Primum non nocere translates as “first, do no harm.” Frist may not have done a great deal of harm during his leadership of the Senate, but it’s hard to argue that he’s done much good, either for Republicans, for the country, or for his own Presidential ambitions.

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