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Public Statements

Supplemental Appropriations

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, a great injustice has come to an end. I rise to recognize the clearing of a good man's name.

Former Senator Bill Frist, with whom I and my Republican colleagues had the honor of serving for 12 years in the Senate, was cleared last week of every allegation of wrongdoing related to his ownership and sale of stock while serving as majority leader.

I rise because, with the exception of an editorial in this morning's Wall Street Journal, the clearing of this good and honorable man's name has gone largely unreported.

It is a sad fact of political life in America that the mere allegation of wrongdoing--the mere allegation of wrongdoing--has the power to tarnish someone's name and dog them for years. But worse still is the silence that so often greets the vindication of the accused.

I remember the rush to judgment that followed the allegations. I remember the memo Democrats sent out attacking Bill on ethical grounds. The authors were later forced to apologize, but the piece had its intended effect.

Republicans knew then--and everyone now knows--those allegations were absolutely false. But the damage, of course, was already done. As the Journal writers put it today:

Despite flimsy evidence, the media storm cast a shadow over [Frist's] office ..... [and] the Nashville heart surgeon chose ..... to take a sabbatical from public life.--

[And] Dr. Frist now joins a long line of public servants to be smeared on page one and [then] exonerated next to the classifieds, only to wonder if anyone noticed.

Well, his friends noticed. Still, it is hard not to lament the damage these reckless claims have caused--caused for Bill, his family, and potentially our political system.

The Founders envisioned a nation in which citizen legislators would be willing to leave the plow and the workbench to serve.

Bill embodied this ideal by leaving his profession and the comforts of private life for a career of public service. He graced this body with his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, and his vision.

We can only hope that future citizen legislators, and judges, are not deterred from entering and elevating politics because of the threat of similar treatment.

A great American statesman once said:

Reputation is like fine china and glass--easy to crack, but hard to mend.

We hope a political culture that allowed the abuse of Bill Frist's good name for political gain does not deter others from choosing the same path that he chose--and so honorably followed.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the editorial entitled ``Frist's Vindication'' from today's Wall Street Journal be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


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