John Quincy Adams once quipped, "Anyone who actually wants to be president is probably not qualified." Today, for the first time, I have begun to think that Bill Frist might actually be qualified. It wasn't a reassessment of his Senate career that changed my mind. It wasn't some new policy proposal or platform that he issued. Rather, it was his statement that he has decided not to run for president. To my mind, it is the sanest decision he has made during his political career. Here is what he said:
My dad in his later years wanted to impart some wisdom to his grandchildren and great grandchildren he would never meet. One thing he wrote that has stuck with me--in fact been a clarion call to me--was "there is so much good to do in the world and so many ways to do it."
Politics is a noble occupation. Medicine is a noble profession. Service to others underlies both.
The people of Tennessee elected me twice to the U. S. Senate, and I was humbled and honored by their support and every day I did my best to serve them with integrity and common sense.
Twelve years ago, I pledged to the people of Tennessee that I would serve two terms in the Senate--to serve as a true citizen legislator--and then return home. I said I'd come to the Senate with 20 years experience in healing, spend 12 years serving in Washington, then go right back to Tennessee to live where I grew up. I've never deviated from that commitment. And I will do just that.
In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close. I do not intend to run for president in 2008.
Karyn and I will take a sabbatical from public life. At this point a return to private life will allow me to return to my professional roots as a healer and to refocus my creative energies on innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges Americans face.
"We have been blessed with the prayers and support of countless individuals around the country who have shared our vision of making America a better place. We thank you and pledge to represent these values in our daily lives and wherever our journey takes us next.
I especially thank Karyn, who has honored me with her love every step along the way. And to our sons, Harrison, Jonathan and Bryan and our extended family: your support and love has sustained me both in and out of politics.
That call from my father still rings true, so we will explore ways to continue to serve outside of politics. Politics for us was never an end--it was a means--a means to serve our country and humanity, to improve lives. And for that opportunity I am truly grateful.
Karyn and I will seek the best opportunity to serve. I may eventually return to what I've done for most of my adult life, heal through medicine and health.
In the short term, I will resume my regular medical mission trips as a doctor around the world to serve those in poverty, in famine, and in civil war. I will continue to be a strong voice to fix what is broken in our health care system and to address the issues of clean water and public health globally. We will stay actively engaged in policy issues affecting the lives of Americans.
"The time for Karyn and me to leave Washington has arrived and we do so with tremendous respect for the institution of the Senate and for my colleagues, for our government, for our President, for the genius of the American people, and for the enduring principles of freedom and liberty upon which our country has prospered.
He doesn't want to be president! What a novel, noble notion! Now, at long last, I think I could actually get on a "Draft Frist" bandwagon.