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Will Bill Frist be the conservatives' Golden Boy in 2008?

Will Bill Frist be the conservatives' Golden Boy in 2008?

All right now, name the biggest conservative Republican rising star of last week's Republican National Convention. John McCain? Well, he's a centrist at best. Rudy Giuliani? Ditto. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Arguably the most conservative of the bunch, but—constitutionally speaking—he's risen as far as he's going to go.

Give up? The answer is Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist. If you're shocked, don't worry; you're certainly not alone, but it happens to be true.

God knows it isn't because of his oratorical skills. Frist gave what was regarded somewhat universally as a dud speech at the convention, which former New Republic editor-turned-Internet pundit Andrew Sullivan described thusly as only he can: "He spoke as if to a bunch of 7-year-olds in their second language.... On a bad day, he'd give small kids nightmares."

No matter. By the time he took the stage on Tuesday night, the groundwork for a Bill Frist in 2008 presidential run was already laid. As the chairman of the party's platform committee, Frist established and solidified connections with the nationwide menagerie of conservative leaders that all Republicans need to win the GOP nomination. What's more, the platform process went off without a hitch (you didn't hear the quadrennial pre-convention pro-life vs. pro-choice battle this year), in part because of tight controls from the White House, but also because Frist let the conservatives do pretty much what they wanted without any interference from the moderate wing. This is a bigger deal than it seems, because while political party platforms don't mean a hill of beans to normal people, they are everything to political party activists.

It's patently clear from this—along with Frist's attempt in July to ban same-sex marriage—that Tennessee's senior senator is positioning himself to be the choice of the GOP right in 2008.Will that get him the nomination? It certainly won't hurt, but then, think of the acceptance speech he would give.

This is (not) CNN

Obviously no longer satisfied with just pissing off has-been state senators like Bob Rochelle of Lebanon, morning talk radio host Steve Gill has managed to place himself on the excrement list of an entire cable news network.

At issue is a particularly heated exchange between Gill and Bill Schneider, a senior political analyst for CNN, wherein Gill took Schneider to task for his highly skeptical view of the anti-John Kerry "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Schneider, showing very real signs of inside-the-beltway-itis, was not at all prepared for a serious challenge to these sentiments and was reduced to random sputtering by the end of the interview.

Unwilling, apparently, to go another round on his own, Schneider had a CNN staffer call Gill to complain of Schneider's treatment on the show, to which Gill essentially demurred. Shortly thereafter, a scheduled appearance on Gill's show by yet another CNN personality—Candy Crowley—was abruptly cancelled without further explanation.

A four-letter word ending with "Q"

A campaign flyer published by the Kerry-Edwards 2004 Tennessee campaign office headquarters lists nine things that John Kerry and John Edwards will focus on if they are elected: 1) education, 2) Social Security and Medicare, 3) job growth, 4) health care, 5) safe communities, 6) civil rights, 7) rural issues, 8) veterans' issues and 9) environmental issues.

All of these things are swell, and certainly domestic issues are the Democratic Party's strong suit, but did it ever occur to anyone that mentioning "terrorism" and "Iraq" somewhere—you know, the two issues that according to last weekend's Gallup Poll are the most salient of this election for a majority of Americans—might be a good idea?

It ain't 1992 anymore, guys.

Zell's dead to him

Speaking of 1992, that was the year Georgia's then-Gov. Zell Miller gave the keynote address for the Democratic National Convention that nominated Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton for the presidency. Miller and Clinton were regarded as political soul mates—Southern Democrats with a pragmatic, centrist and vaguely left-of-center outlook.

Miller has of course turned tail on his erstwhile political allies, giving another keynote address—this time at the Republican National Convention—in which he called Democrats everything but outright traitors to the national cause. That was the last straw for Tennessee Democratic Party Press Secretary Gentry McCreary, a onetime aide to Miller in happier times. McCreary's office wall has in the past prominently featured a personally autographed picture of his former boss in the faint hope that the prodigal Dem will return to his roots. But no more.

"Yep," McCreary told Political Notes with a sigh the morning after Miller's speech. "I guess it's time for that to come down."


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