Why Frist matters

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?