Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was on Larry King last night. They habitually introduce him as being "also a medical doctor." So ran the screen caption last night: "...Also a Dr., treated survivors in NO last weekend."
Why is Frist's status as a doctor assumed to be a special virtue? As if being a doctor somehow makes him less partisan - that perhaps he is more worthy of trust due to his profession. There is always this unspoken assumption implicit in their references to his previous professional life. That it is an unqualified good to be a doctor.
We don't see screen captions referencing other politicians' past employment.
We don't see, for example, "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, also an exterminator." (See his bio, which for some reason, refers to him as having run a "small business" but makes no reference to pest control.)
But back to Frist - he certainly has not demonstrated that his status as a doctor brings any special political wisdom or benefit to the job recently.
In the Terry Schiavo debacle, Frist cravenly offered an opinion on the Senate floor, referencing his medical training, on her responsiveness to stimuli by watching limited footage on videotape of Schiavo.
And he was previously unable to respond directly to George Stephanopolous on This Week when he was questioned on whether HIV could be transmitted through tears.
On both issues he demonstrated an inability to disentangle his right wing politics from medical issues that are not right or left wing.
To his credit, he did depart from Bush's position on prohibiting federal funding of stem cell research.
But as the 2008 campaign gets nearer, and Dr. Frist is frequently mentioned as a standard bearer for his party and a possible recipient of the services of Karl Rove, let's be clear that the Dr. is no political saint.