Sizing up Senator Frist

Below John reflects on his time with Senator Frist yesterday; I joined John for lunch at the Minneapolis Club before a small group convened by a supporter of Senator Frist. Senator Frist also stayed after lunch to make himself available for a half-hour discussion with Ed Morrissey, John and me. (Ed has posted a transcript of part of our half-hour meeting here and here.) I conclude from Senator Frist’s comments that John Bolton will be confirmed as our ambassador to the United Nations next month;
Senator Frist said that the nomination would be brought to a vote on the floor of the Senate in September.

Senator Frist referred to himself several times as a “citizen legislator.” I was struck yesterday by how much of a throwback he is to the politicians of the founding era, men of accomplishment in arenas other than politics. He is a gentleman and a scholar as well as a man of enormous professional accomplishment. He briefly mentioned the charitable uses to which he had put his medical skills in founding and serving a hospital in southern Sudan.

Senator Frist’s comments about the foiled British Muslim plot to take down passenger planes were perhaps the most intriguing of all he had to say. He clearly implied what a near-run thing the foiling of the plot was. He also seemed to imply that the detection of the plot required the use of previously undisclosed surveillance techniques; on this score I’m reading into his discreet comments. He conveyed a sense of the seriousness of the war being conducted against us and the necessity to continue to use all the tools available to defend us.

Senator Frist is, like Ronald Reagan, a man of substance and accomplishment in two difficult fields. I wish he were remaining in the Senate, but salute him for keeping the promise he made his fellow Tennesseans in 1994 to limit himself to two terms. He is leaving Washington to rejoin his fellow Tennesseans while he ponders his future. He is a man with more contributions to make.

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