Frist In Farewell Address: ‘Let Us Not Allow’ Destructive Partisanship On This Floor

Today, with Vice President Cheney presiding over the Senate chamber, Bill Frist delivered his farewell address, urging his colleagues not to be influenced by “destructive partisanship.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/12/fristfarewell.320.240.flv]

An odd statement coming from Frist, who in his four years as Majority Leader allowed one polarizing issue after another to divide the Senate and the nation. ThinkProgress recounts some of Frist’s partisan ploys:

Frist Pushed Gay Marriage Ban. “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday he plans a vote in early June on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a move likely to fail but sure to spark a fiery election-year debate.”

Frist Pushed Flag Burning Amendment. “Amending the Constitution to prohibit flag burning may be considered political posturing in the nation’s capital, says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, but it’s not pandering to the GOP’s conservative base to pursue such protection. ‘It’s important to the heart and soul of the American people,’ said Frist.”

Frist Lumped Minimum Wage Hike With Estate Tax Cut. “The only opportunity this year to increase the minimum wage and renew popular tax breaks will be linked to a reduction in the estate tax, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Tuesday. … ‘It’s now or never,’ Frist said.”

Frist Bucked Bush On Immigration, Proposed Enforcement-Only Bill. “Maneuvering toward a pre-election showdown on immigration, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday said he would seek passage of legislation to secure the borders and predicted Democrats would resist. ‘Right now I got a feeling the Democrats may obstruct it,’ said Frist.”

Frist Offered False Medical Diagnosis From Senate Office. “Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a ‘persistent vegetative state.’ ‘I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,’ he said.”

Frist Advocated Teaching Intelligent Design. “Echoing similar comments from President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said ‘intelligent design’ should be taught in public schools alongside evolution.”

Full transcript:

I think, as a consequence, we are moving toward a body that has too much of a two-year vision, governing for that next election, rather than a body with a 20-year vision, governing for the future. As we consider the future of the institution, I urge that we ask ourselves what it is that our forefathers envisioned. Is today’s reality what they foresaw?

I urge that we consider our work in this chamber. What is it really all about? Is it about keeping the majority? Is it about red states versus blue? Is it about lobbing attacks, in some way, across the aisle, back and forth? Is it about war rooms, whose purpose is not to contrast ideas but to destroy? Or is it more?


I think we need to remember this vision of the Senate: that the framers established the Senate to protect people from their rulers and as a check on the House and on the passions of the electorate. And let us not allow these passions of the electorate be reflected as destructive partisanship on this floor.