The Corner

Hotline on Frist:

The ‘06 midterm elections claim another GOP victim today when Bill Frist quits the WH’08 race. But for Frist, the damage was done before 11/7.

– In ‘00, Frist was on George W. Bush’s VP short list. In ‘02, he was pegged as the GOPer “most likely to succeed.” But then, Dr. Frist, who literally saved lives at the Capitol one day, became Senate Maj. Leader, and the non-ideological outsider became an ideological insider, the man who campaigned against Tom Daschle in ‘04 and used a videotape to diagnose Terri Schiavo.

– Now, Frist is taking the long view. By not running, he saves face and tries to rehabilitate his image. Maybe he goes to the Gates Foundation and fights AIDS in Africa. Maybe he starts his own medical org. Whatever he does, he needs to find that “Doctor” title.

– It’s what made him different. “Just another pol” isn’t going to win in ‘08, especially one so closely tied to his party’s defeat (just ask Dick Gephardt). Maybe by ‘12, after a run in another world, Dr. Frist could be viable again. (Btw, early beneficiaries from Frist’s move? Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, the only remaining southern ‘08 GOPers).

ME: I thought Frist was lost as soon as he started to refer to himself in the third person. This exit quote from this morning nicely demonstrates the problem: “I really do need to re-energize in terms of who Bill Frist is.”

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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