Those keeping an eye on political headlines recently will have seen the news that Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, is pondering a run for president in 2008. Frist is a talented man, with a medical degree, popularity among his peers, and ability to speak with eloquence and clarity. But a president, at least a president of the United States, he is not. He can be president of the Rotary Club, and that will be just fine with many. But president of America? I think not.
Why do I say this with the confidence I do? Because Frist’s views do not line up with a key group of voters in Republican circles: evangelical Christians. He’s just come out in support of stem cell research, a move that has put him directly in the ire stream of evangelicals, who are currently fighting with every shard of tooth and wit to prevent the practice. Strike one. He also failed to keep fellow Republicans from breaking out of party lines on the judicial filibuster issue. Seven “escaped,” making their own power move and leaving Frist looking inept as a leader. Strike two. Despite these events, Frist seems to think that he will garner the evangelical vote in 2008. As an evangelical, I think that I have some insight into how they think. Let me say this about my fellow “fish-heads.” We do not forget easily, and we do not tolerate violations of the conservative social code. Frist is kidding himself if he doesn’t think many evangelicals have written him off altogether with his position on stem cells and his leadership missteps. These are high stakes games, and in the culture wars, every action matters, and every inch covers a mile. The lesson? Sometimes, friends, you don’t need a third strike to call someone out.