How else to read this?

When Thompson met with Bill Frist at the Mayflower Hotel, they had important business to discuss. More than two years ago, Thompson had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is “indolent” lymphoma, a slow-growing form of the disease that is not usually symptomatic. If you’re going to have one of the 33 varieties of lymphoma, Thompson says, this is the one you want. “It’s easy to diagnose, easy to treat and easy to live with,” Frist, a physician, confirms. But it sounds scary, the kind of thing that might spook potential primary voters if it were disclosed by an announced candidate.

“We thought we had to get it out early,” says Frist, “in the sense that he’s going to be announcing.”

Not enough proof?

Thompson says he came to respect George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign because of his plan to reform Social Security. Congressional Republicans considered the plan a political liability, and it went nowhere. Thompson says that although it was only tinkering on the margins of real reform, it was a good start. He won’t share his own plan–“I’ll roll that out at the appropriate time”–but the general principle he articulates sounds like a political risk.

I don’t know any private citizens planning to “roll out” their plans to reform social security, so unless something very unusual happens in the next few weeks, he’s in.

The full piece is easily the best profile of him that I’ve read so far. Takeaway: “Over the next two decades, Thompson would appear in dozens of films and television shows as a character actor, often one who personifies government strength. It is a role that seems to fit.” Exit question: How many weeks after the announcement until he leads in the polls? (Exit answer: Six!)