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Maybe Senate, GOP are better off without Trent Lott

December 13, 2007
It was barely a year ago that Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott stood for re-election to yet another six-year term. But with a Jan. 1 deadline for implementation of a new federal ethics law closing in, the 66-year-old Lott — a youngster by Senate standards — suddenly resigned his seat. The reason is clear even without his confirmatory hints: Big money awaits on K Street, home to high-powered Washington lobbying firms.

We do not begrudge a lawmaker from becoming a lobbyist, because a lobbyist, after all, is fulfilling an important role in our political process by representing people who need, in the words of the First Amendment, to petition the government. Few have more expertise in what have become, thanks to a government grown far too large, complex legislative and regulatory processes than former lawmakers.

What rankles in Lott’s case is that he did not do the normal thing and leave elected office at the end of his term. Instead, he not only ran for re-election but also stood before his GOP colleagues to be elected to a Senate leadership position. The problem, in other words, is that he broke his commitment and his word, in a fashion most Americans probably find more than a little sleazy.

If Lott thinks so little of the Senate, then perhaps the Senate and the GOP are best to be rid of him. It is an ignominious end to an otherwise respectable political career.



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