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Dispatches The Buzz

Bill Frist is now Senate Majority Leader. Who is he? Conservative leader Paul Weyrich told Family News In Focus on Dec. 20 that "Bill Frist is not somebody conservatives would be comfortable with. He's a moderate Republican who's not really pro-life." CBS News echoed that sentiment on Dec. 23, describing him as a "Tennessee moderate." But liberal columnist Eleanor Clift actually swerved closer to the truth on MSNBC Dec. 27: "Frist is the poster boy for President Bush's compassionate conservatism."

The Senate's only physician-a heart-lung transplant specialist-the 50-year-old Dr. Frist goes to Africa each year to treat AIDS patients. Over New Year's, the senator was headed for a Florida vacation when he encountered a bad traffic accident; he stopped his car and helped paramedics stabilize accident victims before they went to the hospital. In 1998, when a gunman opened fire inside the Capitol, Sen. Frist aided two shooting victims. In 1995, he saved the life of a Capitol visitor who suffered an apparent heart attack while on a tour.

As head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Frist last year helped engineer the GOP retaking of the Senate he now leads while receiving a 100 percent ranking of the American Conservative Union; his lifetime ACU is 88 percent, a tad below Trent Lott's 93 percent. National Right to Life rates the senator pro-life; despite rape, incest, and life-of-the-mother exceptions, he notes that his "professional ethics are grounded in preserving life, and I am opposed to abortion."