Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ever-Smarmy Bill Frist,
Oily Man of the People

For a lot of smart, progressive people (probably northerners especially), the very sight and sound of Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee gives rise to a case of the willies. He's the oily guy with the smarmy smile seemingly pasted onto his face who seems to think he can parlay his brief moment of national fame as Senate Majority Leader (or if you prefer, infamy for his role in the shameful Terry Schiavo case, in which he fed the right-wing hysteria by making a prognosis of her vegetative state via watching a videotape) into a credible case for the presidency. Only serious people understand that he's got a
small problem with financial ethics and that he was elevated to his current leadership job mostly at the behest of the Bush White House, which saw him as a useful fool in doing its bidding.

Given that, he seems to have about as much chance of being elected president as I do. He came in first in a straw poll of Republican faithful earlier this year, but that was before his patron, Bush, started sinking badly in the polls. McCain is now clearly the front-runner for the party's nomination.

When you're a longshot in electoral politics, sometimes you just have to gamble and go for the Hail Mary pass. Could this be part of his gamble: trying to remake himself into a sentinel of free speech and a protector of bloggers' rights? That seems to be the case. Not long ago, he introduced the Online Freedom of Speech Act as an amendment to a lobbying "reform" bill (as a Republican insider, you can imagine how much he really wants to reform lobbying). And here, he pontificates about what a staunch defender he is of the freedom of expression. Sorry, but this just doesn't pass the smell test (I especially love this photo on his PAC site, which depicts him as a global man of the people, posing with some African children).

I think I'll continue to ignore the guy, at least when I can summon the energy to think about him at all.


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