Is Bill Gates about to get a Volunteer helper?

Is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist about to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s quest to save the world? National Journal, a publication so insider it makes The Note look like USA Today, predicts that if Frist decides his presidential ambitions are dead in the water, “Gates will gladly bring Frist into his fold.” The move would ...

607269_frist.thumbnail5.jpg
607269_frist.thumbnail5.jpg

Is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist about to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffet's quest to save the world? National Journal, a publication so insider it makes The Note look like USA Today, predicts that if Frist decides his presidential ambitions are dead in the water, “Gates will gladly bring Frist into his fold.”

The move would make sense for both men. Frist would provide Gates with   better connections to the evangelicals who agree with him on ends, if not means. The Majority Leader also brings Washington savvy to the table and -- considering his family connections -- help on the logistics of healthcare. He'd also be a huge financial asset thanks to his personal fortune and fund raising skills. Working with Gates to cure AIDS, would allow Frist to remind the GOP establishment and inside-the-beltway pundits why so many of them used to be convinced he'd be president one day.

Frist is only 54, and it is not out of the question that he could make a run for president in 2016 after burnished his public image with major philanthropic achievements. But the fact that we're talking like this demonstrates just how far his star (and by association Bush's) has fallen.

Is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist about to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s quest to save the world? National Journal, a publication so insider it makes The Note look like USA Today, predicts that if Frist decides his presidential ambitions are dead in the water, “Gates will gladly bring Frist into his fold.”

The move would make sense for both men. Frist would provide Gates with   better connections to the evangelicals who agree with him on ends,

if not means. The Majority Leader also brings Washington savvy to the table and — considering his family connections — help on the logistics of healthcare. He’d also be a huge financial asset thanks to his personal fortune and fund raising skills. Working with Gates to cure AIDS, would allow Frist to remind the GOP establishment and inside-the-beltway pundits why so many of them used to be convinced he’d be president one day.

Frist is only 54, and it is not out of the question that he could make a run for president in 2016 after burnished his public image with major philanthropic achievements. But the fact that we’re talking like this demonstrates just how far his star (and by association Bush’s) has fallen.

In 2002, after Trent Lott shot himself in the foot, it was Karl Rove who maneuvered Frist into the Majority Leader’s office. That was back when Bush had a 64 percent approval rating and the conventional wisdom in Washington was that he and Rove could pretty much hand pick a successor. (If you’d said at a cocktail party then that there’d be no Rove primary you’d have ended up covered in vol-au-vent). But Frist has been a huge disappointment as majority leader. Can you name any great achievements of the Frist-led Senate? His diagnosis by video-tape of Terri Schiavo undercut one of his strongest political suits — a reputation for saving lives as a surgeon. He followed that up with a decision to back stem cell research, which alienated him from the hard-core Christian right and looked like an attempt to atone for his earlier error.

Having said all of that, if Frist is part of the team that helps rid the world of AIDS, he’ll leave behind more of a legacy than even storied Senate majority leaders LBJ and Mike Mansfield. He’d also trump quite a few of the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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