POLITICS: Bill Frist–A wonderful man and a great doctor who has never done anything worthy of criticism in his life!

There was an puff piece last week in the WaPo called Bill Frist: A Doctor at Heart

Contrasted with the gossip-based assassination on fellow 08 candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband in the National Enquirer New York Times, this is just an incredible piece of uncritical fluff.

Perhaps the reporter was unaware of Frist’s less than brilliant piece of telemedicine when he diagnosed Terri Schiavo by videotape (and got it 100% wrong), and the minor, minor matter of the millions of dollars he has in HCA stock and the insider trading “allegations” that surround his recent sales of HCA stock. After all, they’d have had to google their own paper’s web site to find out about that!

But I just thought that this was a classic:

At the zoo hospital, a team of four veterinarians, three technicians, an animal keeper and a veterinary dentist were wheeling a 350-pound gorilla into surgery as Frist arrived. They would perform an ultrasound of the heart, a root canal and a physical. Frist joined the team, as he had on other mornings, tying on a mask. He unbuttoned his business shirt, revealing jungle-pattern surgical scrubs and a pair of hairy, toned biceps.

Now if you are a gorilla you get FOUR vets, THREE techs, a Keeper, a dentist AND the leader of the Senate to care for you. On the other hand if you are a patient at an HCA hospital—which is controlled by the family of the leader of the Senate—you’ll find that the nursing staff is stopped by subpoena from protesting at the shareholders meeting about the inadaquate amount of staff available to look after you! But apparently the available staff number is substandard and doesn’t conform to California law. While I don’t know the details of the case, let’s face it, HCA’s history doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in their ability to follow the law and do the right thing rather than take the quickest, easiest buck possible.

It’s good to know that the Washington Post has time to give us the full picture…

Healthcare Unbound! A Visionary Conference & Exhibition on Remote Monitoring, Home Telehealth and Pervasive Computing. July 17-18, 2006, Cambridge, MA. For full details, please visit: http://www.tcbi.org/hu2006/index.html


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10 replies »

  1. Hey, Paris Hilton could have done the same thing (hung out spending her family money), but she went out and got a job too! And apparently, judging by the press coverage, she’s much more valuable to society than a heart surgeon or a Senator!

  2. As a cardiac surgeon and heart transplant surgeon he saved many thousands of lives. He didn’t have to go through the grueling 9-10 years of post med school training to become a cardiac surgeon. He could have just coasted around the med in a yacht and lived off his family’s money like most trust fund libs do.
    How many here can say that they have saved thousands of lives with their own bare hands??
    In my book he is a good guy.

  3. If everyone on the blog had the same viewpoint, the discussions and comments would not be nearly as interesting or useful.

  4. Yeah, I think we’ve had enough of “lucky” Presidents for a while. People born on third base thinking they hit a triple, as Anne Richards so eloquently put it.
    As I was reading your post, Matthew, I was wondering if Sen. Frist or maybe HCA has moles on blogs like these, posting positive rebuttals as if they were from a (wo)man on the street.
    Ginny gave a little fuel to my paranoia.

  5. It’s good to know that I have Republicans reading! And HCA defenders too! Although the problems that the SEIU claims are going on are happening NOW not in the 1990s, the SEC investigation into Frist’s brother was cancelled suspiciously in 2002, and he was Chairman of the Board in the 1990s…and while Ginny may not think that there’s any “evidence” about the insider trading, there are at least heavy, heavy suspicions–he clearly either lied or was economical with the truth about knowing what was going on in his “blind” trust. Or maybe he’s just very very lucky.
    In that case perhaps it would be good to have a lucky guy as President. However, given that the current occupant of the role was even luckier in his insder trading, I don’t think the luck seems to carry over for the nation.

  6. I noticed the Washington Post piece as well. My take on it is a little different than yours, Matthew. To me it offers an interesting glimpse of the political forces at work in Washington journalism. After running literally hundreds of hard news stories over the last five years that are critical of individual Republicans for their role in corruption scandals, ethics probes, insider trading investigations, dubious appointments and so on, the Post is in a position where it needs to find something positive to say about individual Republicans or face political problems with some readers.
    That may not be much of a consideration to you – but I suspect that in order to keep doing business in Washington, it is a choice that the Post’s editors were more than willing to make.
    The interesting thing is that the best they could do is a human interest piece at the zoo. I find that rather telling.
    It sounds to me like Frist’s people are trying to position him as a moderate Republicans, by stressing an environmental theme …
    Then again, the image of the Senate Majority leader operating on a monkey could always just be a stealth metaphor …

  7. From the interviews I’ve seen of Frist he tries to take a stand for everybody by not saying anything that can be confused with taking a stand on anything. He clearly panders to the Relgious Reich and this showed during the Schrivo case. I believe he is a decent guy, at least in a private sense, as most politicians are, but a “leader” of a country…hope not.

  8. Bill Frist is a decent human being who tries to do the right thing. He may have made a mistake in how he handled the Schiavo case, but many politicians make mistakes on far more important issues for the nation as a whole, i.e. Hillary and her health care plan. His involvement in HCA is so limited that criticism of him regarding HCA is laughable. Was he supposed to throw away his inheritance and not accept any stock that his parents left to him? Should he not have bought stock in a family company? I don’t know of anyone who would have done that. As to the insider trading allegation, if you are honest, you know that there is no evidence of any of that. The sad thing about Bill Frist, is that he may decide not to run for President – and that will be a loss for our Country – because he has much to offer as a candidate.

  9. Having met Dr. Frist twice at conferences in recent years, he clearly does come across as a thoroughly decent human being. Indeed, the key criticism that I hear about him in Republican political circles is that he’s too “soft” which, in this context, means not sufficiently ruthless to keep the troops in line.
    As for HCA, most of its problems with Medicare happened during the CEO tenure of Rick Scott. More recently, HCA has been in the forefront of treating the uninsured much more fairly when it comes to billing, and they are also proactively taking the lead in improving pricing transparency with respect to hospital billing. At least in this financial aspect of healthcare, I give HCA a lot more credit for starting to “do the right thing” than any non-profit hospitals I can think of.