The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, May 27, 2005  

The Sooner the Better

A Los Angeles Times editorial, “The Frist Problem,” today makes a strong case supporting the notion that the Senate, the Republican Party, and the nation as a whole would benefit from the speedy departure of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.):

The best thing a Senate majority leader with presidential aspirations can do is quit. That was Bob Dole’s strategy in 1996, when he resigned to run against President [Bill] Clinton. And it may be part of Bill Frist’s decision not to seek reelection in 2006. If so, Frist could hardly make a smarter move. […]

Dole quit in part because his evident mastery of its rules left the impression that he cared more about recondite parliamentary tactics than he did about the presidency. Frist, who many speculate plans a bid in 2008, has the opposite problem. The longer he tries to run the Senate, the more he looks like a bungler whose only principle is personal advancement. […]

Frist may be bringing trouble on himself by trying to satisfy the exorbitant demands of his party’s far-right wing, which, like the old Soviet Union, views one concession simply as an occasion to ask for another. Before Frist truckles any further to the conservative base, he would do well to remember that the Hippocratic oath should apply to the Senate as well: First do no harm.

Enough damage has been done. Do we really have to wait another year and a half?

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