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It was seersucker/candystriper day in the Senate
It was seersucker/candystriper day in the Senate

Former Senator Bob Bennett, an extremely conservative Utah Republican who was thrown under the Tea Party clown car in Utah’s 2010 state Republican convention for being “too liberal” (he actually spoke to Democrats now and again), died May 4 at the age of 82. He’d been under treatment for pancreatic cancer for over a year, and had also suffered a stroke in April. While his family was spending some quiet time with him at George Washington University Hospital, a few days before his death, Bennett had a question for his son, Jim Bennett: “Are there any Muslims in the hospital?”

At first, the younger Bennett thought maybe the out-of-nowhere question might have had something to do with the stroke.

But Jim said his father, even after the stroke, was “sharp as a tack.”

“So I was standing there with him in the hospital and out of nowhere he asked me, ‘Are there any Muslims in this hospital?'” Jim Bennett told NBC News Wednesday evening.

“I said, ‘Yes, dad, I’m sure there are.'” Jim said of the conversation, which was first reported by the Daily Beast. “And he was very emotional and said, ‘I want to go up to every single one of them and apologize, I want to go up to every single one of them and tell them how grateful I am that they are in this country and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.'”

Jim Bennett said his mother, Joyce Bennett, told him that the former senator had made a habit of trying to “express a sense of inclusion” to Muslims, saying it was “something that he was doing quite a lot of in the last months of his life.”

Joyce told her son that his father had approached people wearing hijabs in an airport to “let them know that he was grateful they were in the country and the country was better for them being here.”

We don’t wish to take away from how decent a thing that was, but we’d also note how often it seems former Republican lawmakers look back at their political careers and their former colleagues and think maybe they have something to apologize for. Or for the direction their party has taken after they were in the middle of cutting budgets, fighting affirmative action, and excoriating poor people. We don’t recall any stories of aging liberals looking back and saying they wished they could go back and cut taxes for the rich or allow more toxic sludge to be dumped into wetlands.

In Bennett’s case, at least it appears he was never part of the anti-Muslim hysteria that exploded after 9/11 — he was more in line with George W. Bush’s public statements that we were at war with al Qaeda, not Islam.

Jim said that his father became interested in Islam after 9/11, citing a desire to be informed about the religion while making policy decisions in the wake of terrorist attacks.

“He spent a lot of time studying Islam and wanting to be informed enough to that he wouldn’t be making decisions on the floor of the Senate ignorantly,” Jim said.

Jim Bennett also said his father had become “increasingly troubled” by Trump’s popularity in the Republican primaries:

I think Trump’s rise was really the motivation for him to recognize the importance of expressing his desire for inclusion. He just felt it was his responsibly to push back.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Jim Bennett said his father’s disgust with Trump was tied into his identity as a Mormon:

Bennett’s Mormon faith also played into his beliefs on Trump and Muslims: the billionaire’s proposal to ban Muslims prompted the LDS Church to issue a statement in support of religious freedom, quoting its founder saying he would “die in defending the rights … of any denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.”

“That was something my father felt very keenly — recognizing the parallel between the Mormon experience and the Muslim experience. [He] wanted to see these people treated with kindness, and not ostracized,” Jim Bennett said.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell spoke to Jim Bennett Thursday about his father’s last days:

So farewell to Bob Bennett. He may have been an ultra-conservative who never met a talking point from the Heritage Foundation he didn’t like, had top ratings from the NRA and the American Conservative Union, consistently opposed gay rights and environmental protection, and even voted against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and aid to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. But in a year when his own party was wildly enthusiastic about hating Muslims, Bennett spent his last months trying to oppose that anti-Muslim bigotry, and that counts for something. Even though he knew he didn’t have much time left, Bob Bennett was a mensch.

[The Daily Beast / NBC News / The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell]

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  • Indiepalin

    Post mortem mormon custom dictated that he re-baptized a democrat.

  • we’d also note how often it seems former Republican lawmakers look back at their political careers and their former colleagues and think maybe they have something to apologize for.

    As people get older and closer to death and possibly meeting a just and good creator or just thinking about the legacy we will leave behind, we tend to start worrying that maybe we weren’t as good as we thought and should maybe do a bit of penance.

    • SuspectedDemocrat

      Did Strom Thurmond ever apologize and ask forgiveness?

      • Msgr_Moment

        Prolly doing that 24/7 right now.

        • Randy Riddle

          Right next to Jesse Helms.

          • JustPixelz

            Ted “Lucifer in the Flesh” Cruz is a harsh afterlife taskmaster.

        • Bitter Scribe

          Every time a devil jabs him in the butt.

      • SDGeoff

        Who the hell cares.

      • Iron Monkey

        Using Christian iconography St. Peter is saying to Thurmond, “Sorry asshole, but eternity in Hell means eternity in Hell. Maybe you should have thought of that before you died. Back into the furnace, Strom”

    • Thaumaturgist

      Being a Republican means never having to say you’re sorry. (One outlier doesn’t modify the general rule.)

      • SisterArtemis

        Well, it may MEAN never having to say you’re sorry, but it’s nice when someone breaks ranks.

    • SDGeoff

      Respectfully, if people chose to live a more conscious and self aware existence, we wouldn’t have to make a lot of excuses when we reach The End, worrying about pleasing an Invisible Judge And Guiltmaster.

      Reminds me of something I heard a little while back. There are three things no one ever knows. When we are born, when we reach middle age, and when we die. It made me reorganize a few of my priorities.

    • Jenny

      One of my step grandmother’s did that. As she got closer to death, she started doing shit she had never done before, like give to charity or say nice things about everyone. She even hugged me once, which was weird because my siblings and I were never allowed in her house.

      No really. We were not allowed inside. Our step cousins (her real grandkids) were allowed inside. They brought us food and water. There was a small bathroom in her giant air-conditioned garage. That’s as “inside” we got.

      Anyways, she really wanted to go to heaven so she stopped being a cunt.

  • SuspectedDemocrat

    He’s just inviting a storm of death threats and rape threats from Trump supporters now.

  • malsperanza

    Republican deathbed repentance. Was it getting primaried by the Tea Party that cleared his mind, or the stroke?

  • Lascauxcaveman

    “He spent a lot of time studying Islam and wanting to be informed enough to that he wouldn’t be making decisions on the floor of the Senate ignorantly,” Jim said.
    Well, if that ain’t a RINO, I don’t know what is.

    • SDGeoff

      I can think of some other topics that he was too damned ignorant to read up on.

  • Enfant Terrible

    People change, often for the better. RIP, Robert Bennett.

    • Jonny On Maui

      I thank the FSM for that!

    • natoslug

      Death is the final improvement for most.

  • Belasaurius

    hell, even George Wallace apologized 20 years before he died. But better late than whatever

    • SuspectedDemocrat

      And Bush Sr apologized for spanking Bart.

      • Belasaurius

        only cause Bar made him

        • SuspectedDemocrat

          Showing weakness in front of the Russians. Sad!

  • Callyson

    Can’t wait to see TehRump’s tweet about this one. RIP, Senator.

    • Msgr_Moment

      Something, something, 72 virgins, #somethingsomething.

    • schmannity

      Sad. Pathetic. When will our deathbed repententing be smart, strong, vigilant? Something like that?.

    • A very low energy death bed apology, sad.

      • Ricky Gay

        He’s dead. He lost. I prefer winners.

        • Bitter Scribe

          I like people who don’t die.

          • JustPixelz

            Which is why he doesn’t like Jesus bigly.

          • Ricky Gay

            even better! bravo!

          • Jody Fuller

            “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!ti694urtwo days ago grey MacLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !ti694u:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsLookGetPay-Hour$98…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!ti694u….,….

      • Tallmutha

        I don’t even think these are parodies. I’ll bet this is exactly the way he feels.

    • Jenny

      He won’t bother. If he does it will be something like “Who? I don’t know him? Sorry he died.”

  • Msgr_Moment

    Going the way of the RINOs.

    Always good to see some decency from pols.

    • JustPixelz

      Trump and the Republicans have set the bar for decency pretty low. Anything above “get the fuck out and die” is seen as being a bleeding heart.

  • SpideySenser

    Mensch for the Muslims, unmensch regarding the NRA, gays, and children’s health.

  • ManchuCandidate

    RINO because he read and had rational thoughts (sometimes)!

    • Biff52

      Well, that one time, anyway.

    • doktorzoom

      You do NOT want to read the WND comments on their version of this story.

  • Biff52

    See, that’s how you get into heaven. No matter how big a cocksucker you are throughout your life, just gotta say “sry” on your death bed, and voila!

    • ahughes798

      I asked this of my fundy neighbor. “You mean Hitler, on his death cot, could have accepted Jeebus as his lord and saviour and he’d go straight to heaven?”

      She said “Of course not!” I asked why….he accepted Jeebus, blah, blah, blah, so why not?”

      *crickets*

  • Spotts1701

    Meh, I don’t begrudge someone for trying to make peace at the end. If it brought him comfort in those last days, I won’t get wee-wee’d up about it.

  • SDGeoff

    Talk about a death bed conversion. I’m sorry to say I am neither moved nor convinced.

  • DoILookAmused2u ?

    I know how he feels.

    I sometimes feel I need to apologize to my Muslim friends for Trump too, but then I remember, “they know me”.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Yet another politician who was decent when it was too late to do any good.

    I really don’t get why so many of these guys view losing an election as a fate worse than death. Yes, yes, everyone wants to be a winner, but it’s not like they’re going to starve.

  • anwisok

    How dare he! How fucking dare he apologize “on behalf of the Republican Party” for something they are not even slightly sorry for! He in no way speaks for the Party – not when they are going to run the man he is apologizing about as their nominee! Fucking assholes can’t even do a deathbed confession right. I hope he’s enjoying himself dancing in the fires of Hell.

    • Logic of Color

      “On behalf of” should have been “for”

  • DoILookAmused2u ?
    • Steven M. Harries

      Is he still after David Byrne’s job?

  • Steven M. Harries

    It’s not how you die.

    It’s how you live. And how you allow others to live.

    He failed.

    But he died real good and all for his imaginary god.

  • AngryBlakGuy

    …not very many things make ABG “tear up” but this story did

  • Scooby

    No matter how hard he sucked he was still waaaay better than Mike Lee!

  • Villago Delenda Est

    No wonder the man was teapartied out. He showed disgusting signs of being a mensch.

    • Dinz6315

      “…disgusting signs of being a human being.”
      FIFY.

  • DemmeFatale

    Such a shame that he lived to see the GOP reaping what they sowed.
    Not something to be proud of.
    What a legacy, huh Bob?

  • Msmlg1979

    I can certainly understand his feelings toward Muslims. The US government basically went to war with Mormons many years ago. Religious freedom is something any Mormon must take very seriously if they know their history. However, please refrain from running your mouth about fighting for marginalized groups when you only fight for the groups you deem appropriate, and only deem them appropriate because you see your own past plight reflected in theirs, and while you continue to use your religion as a weapon to subjugate those you do not deem worthy of defending.

    • natoslug

      All the Mormons wanted was their own little paradise in the middle of ‘Murrica, and the U.S. had to go and pee on their party. Why can’t America recognize State’s Rights (and town rights? And that neighborhood over there’s rights?)?

  • natoslug

    You were one of the builders, Bob. Own it.

  • Jen_Baker_VA

    True story: a VA named after Byrd changed its name recently because (they say) he was all a bigot (in actuallity, it was the whole being sorry for being a bigot turn into a decent human being thing they really have a problem with, as evidenced by alllllll the lovery schools and streets named after slave owners, confed generals and of course, KKK members).
    Even though it was just on one thing, he tried to make a difference at the end. I can respect that.

  • Steven M. Harries

    I loved it when Jesse Jackson refused to accept racist Lee Atwater’s deathbed apology.

    Spit on racists!

    • Villago Delenda Est

      Lee Atwater was one of the principle architects of the degradation of our public discourse into Drumpfism.

      Burn in Hell, Atwater.

      • Tallmutha

        But, but–when it was way too late he had a sad!

  • therblig

    apologize to the muslims because there might a handful in heaven. don’t apologize to the gays, because they won’t be there. don’t apologize to women, because women in heaven, like on earth, know their place. don’t apologize to the earth, because, fuck it, you’ll be in heaven.

    rot in the ground, asshole.

    • SDGeoff

      He rotteth even as thou speakest.

    • Biff52

      Nope, no Muslims in Mormon heaven! So it is written!

  • SayItWithWookies

    Well — that’s nice. I wish he had had that element of awareness of what damage his party caused while he was in a position to do something about it. Nevertheless, if that gesture awakened some fellow Republicans who happen to be in office now, maybe it’ll do some good.

    • Villago Delenda Est

      We can hope, but given that the maggots are lining up behind Drumpf, it may be a vain hope.

      • dshwa

        Yeah, and it’s not like the NeverTrumps are mad about the bigotry, just that he’s damaging the brand.

  • goonemeritus

    I almost never feel compelled to apologize to entire ethnic groups for what Democrats are doing. Well at least not since the early 60’s.

  • JD Mulvey

    It’s never too late to do the right thing.

    • Biel_ze_Bubba

      Waiting until you’re no longer in the position of power that you held when you were being a dick is, IMHO, a bit too late.

      • Biff52

        Still waiting for those closeted Republicans who have been voting against their own interests to come out and apologize, too.

    • BehaveYrself

      Yes it is. His peers will say he had lost his sanity, and they may well be right. Wandering around the hospital with yer bum sticking out the back of a gown, apologizing for Trump (not for himself, mind you) to strangers, does come off as coo-coo.

  • GDleftyPart2

    Deathbed regrets are a sad end to some peoples lives.
    If you’re an asshole during your entire life and career, saying you’re sorry as your own end draws near just doesn’t mean that much to me.
    You had 82 years on this planet, you decided in the last .5 of the very last one that you have regrets…
    You had your shot to be decent when you had actual power, you fucked it up.

    My regret will be I could not overcome my addiction to store bought birthday cake.

    • BehaveYrself

      I’m a whore for a square Pepperidge Farm.

  • TheBidenator

    It’s nice that Bob Bennett wanted to apologize to Muslims for Trump and his party before he passed. It took Germany a while to apologize to literally every group after Hiter died….

    • dshwa

      To be fair to Germany, that was a damn long list.

  • TheBidenator

    Say, do you know who ELSE had to apologize to a religious group after a certain somebody did terrible things to them?

    • Blank Ron

      Cyrus II of Persia?

  • Shibusa
    • zerosumgame0005

      only 4 sister wives? slacker!

  • TheBidenator

    I like winners who can fight off cancer and live. Weak. Sad!

    • Iam Reading

      Man you are getting good. Remember, the abyss stares back.

      • artem1s

        I warned him his face would get stuck that way, but did he listen?

        • zerosumgame0005

          sigh, nobody ever listens to mom!

  • Iam Reading

    All this can be avoided by not being a dick in the first place. But yeah, better late than never I suppose

  • artem1s

    welp, I hope if his son (or any of his relatives) plan on going into politics, he takes this to heart. not gonna do the rest of us much good, cause it’s just a nice story about what a great guy grandpa was unless they do something about it.

  • Nyumbu

    My memory of Bob Bennett is from 30 or so years earlier when he was a guest of a news program on KUER, the only public radio station affiliated with the University of Utah. He went off on a tear about how the public sector had no right to compete with the private sector. The host asked him if that applied to this radio station. Bennett laughed and said, no, of course not, but if you were to somehow boost your signal so that went beyond the campus dormitories, then, yes, you would have no business doing that. before the host pointed out that the station’s signal did, indeed, reach to every corner of the state and parts of Idaho and Wyoming as well.

  • SecludedCompound

    Fuck Bob Bennett. Fuck Lee Atwater. Fuck all of these assholes for spending their entire lives creating these problems that “realizing” they were wrong on their death beds.

  • yyyaz

    If he were a real mensch, not just what passes for one in Mormon Nutlandia, his name would be Udall.

  • OrdinaryJoe

    What will Jesus do? Forgive him his trespasses or tell him sorry but there is hell to pay for your assholiness?

    • phoenix00

      This is exactly why the guy died. Tired of this micromanaging shit.

  • jjdaddyo

    Yeah, too bad he didn’t feel like apologizing for being up to his ass in CIA shenanigans and Watergate too.
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2016_05/on_bob_bennett_and_donald_trum060598.php

  • Iron Monkey

    Right on Doc–for example, I don’t think that Hubert Humphrey spent much time worrying about apologizing to various Grand Kleagles, Strom Thurmond or small town southern sheriffs for his role in Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s.

  • fawkedifiknow

    There are no religious bigots in foxholes.

  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    Yay for Bennett, but it would have been nice if he’d wised up while he was in office.

  • Mimihaha

    Robert Bennett : right about 1 thing.

    His family does have my sympathy.

  • going4baroque

    USA still waiting for Utah to apologize for Bob Bennett, and while you’re at it, Mitt Romney

  • OneDemin EOr

    Sorta like Lee Atwater, realizing that the two minute warning sounded a minute and a half ago.
    Better late than never, I guess.
    And better than never apologizing, like W and Truck Fump.

  • Kooolest G

    this is why hillz is gonna win utah. mormons are not big fans of religious persecution, or a guy on wife #3 who brags about his penis and how rich he is, or even shitting on messicans, but especially not fans of talking trash about Mitt Romney.

    • Lamashtar

      The Mormons said Utah would go blue this year. I am quietly hopeful.

      • wheezl

        Because the country isn’t screwed up enough. Enjoy your bathroom kiddies because Lamashtar is all about winning!!

        • Incoming Ham

          You just got a D- in trolling.

          Hey Kids! – There is a live one over here!

          • wheezl

            ummmm….who are you? Why in the fuq are you addressing a comment that wasn’t to you and you are not even part of the thread? Do you need some attention?

        • Lamashtar

          Your user name is very appropriately lame.

          • wheezl

            OK…..thanks?

  • Ryan Denniston

    Lee Atwater did the same damned thing when he died. Weird right? Poor Bob Dole, he got to experience the bigotry right in his face, it probably smarts to this day.

    • gffish

      Don’t feel too sorry for Bob Dole. He endorsed #WeakDonald for President earlier this month.

  • phoenix00

    His headstone:

    HERE LIES BOB BENNETT
    Pained the kids to death
    Drowned the colored
    Gave everyone gunz
    Denied the gays happiness
    BUT thought about the Muslims

    Now if you would excuse me, I have a tear to shed. Of the Alligator variety.
    https://media2.giphy.com/media/ylyUQmkbNYZAdJbcD6/200_s.gif

  • handyhippie65

    this is that death bed conversion you hear so much about. i’m glad to see it, but god doesn’t look fondly on them. at least that’s what i was taught in church.

    • mary5920

      It’s never to late to make amends. Church ‘O Blues

  • Jody Fuller

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!ti694urtwo days ago grey MacLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !ti694u:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsLookGetPay-Hour$98…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!ti694u….,…

  • Vegan and Tiara

    Ted Kennedy regretted blocking single payer health insurance when Nixon was president. He didn’t want Nixon to score political points. He’s one of the few I can think of who had deathbed regrets.
    I remember being a kid and wondering how civilization could go from the Greeks and the Romans, to the Dark Ages. I think it happens when you let the A Idiots run things.

    • harryeagar

      Moynihan pretty much spent the last part of his life regretting the first part.

  • Incoming Ham

    I’m grateful that one of them apologized for SOMETHING, and maybe meant it. Meanwhile the rest of the pack of jackels sit around giggling to themselves and patting each other on the back for how conservative they are.

  • Tosca

    …”wanting to be informed enough to that he wouldn’t be making decisions on the floor of the Senate ignorantly.”

    No wonder he got Tea Partied. A Republican lawmaker who seeks to EDUCATE himself on the issues he’s making laws about? We can’t have that.

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