A Republican Vote for Cloture?

Now that Bob Bennett has been rudely evicted by his own state party, could he actually vote for cloture once in a while?

In an interview with AP, Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, a staunch conservative who lost his party’s nomination because he is not completely deranged, argues that the base of his party is, well, completely deranged:

Bennett, a policy wonk who typically shuns the spotlight, likened the nation’s political atmosphere to that of the Vietnam War era.

“In those days they were willing to give up on America from the left, and in these days they’re are too many people willing to give up on America from the right,” he said. “I don’t have that sense of despair, which worked against me in the campaign, because they said we want more passion out of you — passion being we want you standing there screaming about how horrible everybody is, along with the talk show hosts that are screaming how horrible it is,” Bennett said.

“And if you don’t scream, you don’t have passion, and if you don’t have passion you don’t care. I’m saying wait a minute, things as bad as they are, are not that horrible.”

(Emphasis added).  This doesn’t sound like someone who is willing to forgive and forget.  At least I hope not, especially since he is looking at new career options:

Bennett, the grandson of a Mormon Church president, said he’s still not sure what he will do once he leaves office. Options he’s considering include serving as the head of a trade association, working as a professor, consulting law firms and going on the lecture circuit.

He also said he would consider getting back into the business world. Before running for office Bennett headed a public relations company, a computer company and a firm that produces day planners.

Maybe one of those options would include serving as an Ambassador.  That might be arranged in exchange for a few votes on cloture.  Would his former collagues filibuster him?  Who knows.

Other allegedly sane Republican Senators, like George Voinovich of Ohio, have proved resistant to the appropriate blandishments, but perhaps that’s because Voinovich is considering working as a lobbyist.  It really depends upon what you want to do: if you’re going to be lobbying your former colleagues, don’t tick them off.  If Bennett is serious about working for a “trade association” or “consulting law firms,” which basically means lobbying, then there’s no point.  If not, then it might work, especially on issues like financial reform, where the partisan valence is less harsh than with, say, health care. 

Bennett’s keeping his options open; the administration, should, too.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

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