Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 19, 2011

WHY FRIST MATTERS.... We talked yesterday about former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) becoming an unexpected ally of the Affordable Care Act. This week, Frist argued that congressional Republicans should give up on the repeal effort, and instead should consider ways to build on it.

The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney, a conservative, followed up with some questions about my post, and in case others had similar concerns, I thought I'd take a moment to respond.

First, Carney asked, in reference to Frist, "[D]on't you think it's relevant he invests in the industries that supported the bill?"

It's not an unreasonable point, but I suspect it's overly broad. As Chris Hayes noted, the "industries" Carney references lined up on both sides of the reform fight.

Carney added that seeing me

"...talking about Frist as a reasonable Republican is like talking about Lanny Davis as reasonable Democrat."

I'm puzzled by the comparison. Frist was a two-term Republican senator, who rose to the rank of Senate Majority Leader, with the backing of the Bush/Cheney White House. It's a mistake for me to consider him a "reasonable Republican"? Since when is Frist a reviled, widely-mocked figure in Republican circles, on par with Lanny Davis?

I'll concede -- indeed, I noted yesterday -- that Frist's tepid support for the reform law isn't necessarily a huge, game-changing moment, but a comparable situation would be Tom Daschle endorsing a major Republican policy accomplishment. Wouldn't that be considered a fairly noteworthy development, regardless of Daschle's investment portfolio?

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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IMHO - the only person comparable to Lanny Davis is Dick Morris (spit 3 X's, cross self, spit 3 more X's).

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

On the plus side, Tim Carney will probably get in all sorts of trouble with the base for reading what Steve Benen writes. Conservatives are supposed to pretend we're not worthy of being noticed...unless an anonymous poster says something hateful about Palin or compares Bush to Hitler, then it's proof that we're all savages.

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 19, 2011 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Frist sacrificed any credibility he may have had so he could score political points by diagnosing Terry Schiavo from a thousand miles away.

I give his thoughts on any issue zero consideration.

Posted by: Winkandanod on January 19, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

There's no real substantive argument going on here. Yes, there's a debate, full of diversions, deflections, lies, and disinformation, but that's what you'd expect here when the GOP battles the Great Muslim Socialist. Insofar as Bill Frist counts, it's among the very few pundits who aren't grading according to the standard equivalency curve. Needless to say, the vast majority of Americans have no idea who Frist is.

Posted by: walt on January 19, 2011 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Was Carney at all, ever, the least bit concerned about Bush & Cheney's ties to the oil industry? Or Cheney's to Halliburton? If not, then he can shut up about Frist.

Really, the notable thing about Frist's statement is that, until now, he was a creature of the health industry status quo, just as much as Cheney was a creature of Halliburton. To see Frist talking positively about HCR makes me wonder if the GOP's corporate paymasters have abandoned the party's repeal efforts. Which would make the repeal vote even more of a sham than it already was: I suspect that Boehner WANTS the repeal to lose and the issue to go away.

Posted by: jvwalt on January 19, 2011 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Ask Mr. Carey why I have to keep calling his rag to get them to stop throwing their decidely inferior free product on my lawn. I know alot of Bush people went to work for them; maybe the people in charge of post-war Iraq and Katrina response got jobs in the circulation department.

Posted by: John Dillinger on January 19, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Since when is Frist a reviled, widely-mocked figure in Republican circles,"

Since one second after he said something complimentary about anything affiliated with Obama. At that point, it suddenly became obvious that all real republicans had hated him for years.

Posted by: shorthope on January 19, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Carney has bought into the Blair observation that ignorance is strength, and merely needed to show us the sacrilege Frist committed by thoughtfully engaging the real issue! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 19, 2011 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Frist is putting his mouth where his money is: HCR is garnering a whole lot of customers for the healthcare industry, and putting money in their pockets to spend. What's not to like?

Posted by: steverino on January 19, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

My question to Tim Carney is why are Republicans trying to repeal a law that is so favorable to Frist's business interests. Won't they be harmed if the Republicans are successful? This week is all theater intended to satisfy the ever shrinking tea party base. If there was a real chance the ACA would be repealed the fire would go out in the bellies of the Republicans proponents.

Given the polls and the way Democrats are beating the Republicans like a drum over the repeal effort, I for one am happy to see the Republicans dimish themselves this week.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 19, 2011 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

The examiner and its flaks are to be mocked, not treated with rationality.

Posted by: Rich on January 19, 2011 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Most Americans do know who Frist is, they just don't remember his name.
If you mention his diagnosis from video of Terry Schaivo, you would be surprised how many would say, Oh yes, the cat killer.

Posted by: thebewilderness on January 19, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't that be considered a fairly noteworthy development, regardless of Daschle's investment portfolio?

To Republicans? No. They wouldn't care if Jesus H. Christ came back and endorsed the ACA.

Posted by: Marko on January 19, 2011 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK



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