Political Animal


December 09, 2012 12:46 PM Two Assessments of the DeMint Era and Its Aftermath

By Adele Stan

Reading right-wingers assess the Senate legacy of Jim DeMint, R-S.C., which we discussed at some length in yesterday’s post, is always amusing, if not so intended by the assessor. Here’s New York Times columnist Ross Douthat:

This chapter — the DeMint chapter, the Tea Party chapter, call it what you will — was probably a necessary stage for the American right. It’s normal for defeated parties and movements to turn inward for a period of ideological retrenchment before new thinking takes hold.
What’s more, the DeMint worldview wasn’t so much wrong as incomplete. It really was important for Republicans to get more serious about entitlements and to shake off their Bush-era blitheness about deficits. The principles of many Tea Partiers really were an improvement over the transparent cynicism of a Tom DeLay.

Of course! True believers in a hate-mongering, hyperpartisan playbook are soooo much more preferable to more pragmatic proponents of hyperpartisan hate-mongering.

For an alternate take, I suggest the always elegant and wryly humorous Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, who titles his blog post about DeMint’s move from the Senate to the right-wing think tank known as the Heritage Foundation this way: “Heritage Diagnosed: Severe DeMintia”:

DeMint inhabits the outer reaches of movement conservatism pretty much across the board, but his greatest passion seems to be reserved for what are delicately termed “social issues.” On questions of sexual identity and behavior, he is a forthright bigot and a prude. Shortly before the 2008 election, speaking at a Dominionist “Greater Freedom Rally,” he summarized his position thusly:
If someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom. And he holds the same position as an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend. She shouldn’t be in the classroom.
Last year, he indicated that his belief in small government is rooted in the theory that there is a fixed and limited amount of space that can be occupied by the government and the deity combined. The size of the public sector and the size of the Almighty are inversely proportional to each other. It’s an iron law, a zero-sum game:
I’ve said it often and I believe it—the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

As Hertzberg explains in his lead:

For nigh on forty years, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation have been doing a good-cop/bad-cop routine—make that a bad-cop/really bad-cop routine. Yesterday, Heritage decided to double down on bad, with stained-glass windows.

Trust me, the whole thing is a terrific read, and a trenchant take on the internecine battles of the right, as played out by its two best-known think tanks.


  • c u n d gulag on December 09, 2012 1:33 PM:

    "What’s more, the DeMint worldview wasn’t so much wrong as incomplete."

    Really, Pope Ross I?
    Incomplete how?

    He is anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-women, anti-union, anti-worker, anti-SS and Medicare, and pro-corporations, and pro-Jesusy goodness, and thinks that church and state should be joined like Siamese Twins - with only one brain, and that brain should be focused on how to get more people to church, and how companies can make more money.

    And as a Congressman and Senator, he supported pretty much EVERY single one of W's idiotic budget busters, so there goes your line about him getting "more serious about entitlements and to shake off their Bush-era blitheness about deficits," Pope Ross.

    The man is a Evangelical Dominionist Christian idealogue, first, and everything else second.

    Even his fellow Republican Senator won't miss him when he's gone.

    Hint, Ross: Nobody likes a 'moral scold."
    Except maybe some Editors at the NY Times. And you, of all people, Pope Ross, should embrace Affirmative Action, because without the Times need to "balance" all of the Liberals on the Op-ed page (I joke - I meant Dr. Paul Krugman), you'd still be doing whatever useless thing it was you were doing, before you got the most prime piece of real estate in the country.

    I know DeMint will be replaced by someone who's as close to a Conservative Jesusy nitwit as they can find, and who seem to be more common in SC than kudzu, but the intellectual and emotional IQ will go up a little bit when he's no longer around to darken any Senate towels.

    Good riddance to bad Jesusy rubbish!!!

  • Mitt's Magic Underpants on December 09, 2012 1:42 PM:

    1. I love how Republicans present themselves as the party of "freedom," even though they are constantly trying to take away so many people's freedom to live as they see fit.
    2. Wow, it must be so sad to be so insecure about your God.

  • schtick on December 09, 2012 2:24 PM:

    Everytime I see a foundation named, especially one with American, Heritage or Freedom in the title, I automatically think it's the teapubs. I wouldn't trust their views with a ten foot pole. Besides, why do teapubs have to hide behind a title that tries to fool the people into believing they AREN'T teapubs in the first place?

    The teapubs are nothing but anti-America, anti-American, anti-equal rights, anti-women, anti-environment, anti-safety, anti-Constitution, anti-government, and anti anything else that equals any kind of fairness to the American people.

    They promote their anti-everything good garbage all the while waving the flag and spouting God, Country and family values. They really should start taking their own advice and live by their values for a change.

  • jjm on December 09, 2012 2:40 PM:

    This has got to be Heritage and the Kochs paying off DeMInt for his unstinting willingness to try to promote their reactionary ideas for the last six or eight years from his place as a Senator... Because why else the big bucks? He has convinced just about no one on any issue, and his electoral / tea party successes have been minimal.

  • MuddyLee on December 09, 2012 2:44 PM:

    Thanks for your work this weekend, Adele. Great posts.

  • c u n d gulag on December 09, 2012 3:02 PM:

    Ditto on what MuddyLee said, Adele!

  • Styve on December 09, 2012 4:06 PM:

    Heard a great line on This Week, this morn...DeMent's more to the Heritage Fndtn., "takes the 'think' out of 'think tank'".

  • exlibra on December 09, 2012 5:57 PM:

    I've often wondered, in case of people like DeMinted, how much of all this "anti" attitude (no free choice in *anything* to do with sex) comes from religious convictions and how much is personal.

    Anti abortion and "abortion" (contraceptives)? Is it because Jesus says so (where?), or is it because he knows, in his heart of hearts that "there, but for the grace of legislation, would have gone I, down the toilet tubes, not the fallopian ones"?

    Ditto the woman who sleeps with her boyfriend without the blessing of the church. If every woman could/would do this, where would he find one willing to sleep with him just for the pleasure of it, without regard for his provider abilities? How would he ever assure himself of a regular supply of sex, if the only carrot he had to bait her with was his personal charm?

    I also think that most of those same men are not altogether appalled by rape in general and, certainly, do not even recognise such a concept as "marital rape". I think that attitude -- the only "permissiveness" they ever exhibit when it comes to sexual issues -- also stems from the same fear of "not getting mine" otherwise.

    "hetypeo upon". And how!

  • Jeff Johnson on December 10, 2012 3:04 PM:

    It's worth mentioning here that the issue of homosexuals working as teachers came up as a ballot initiative in California in the late 70's, when what was known as the Briggs initiative tried to ban homosexuals from the teaching profession.

    Then Governor of California Ronald Reagan came out publicly against the initiative, in other words in favor of the right of homosexuals to teach in California public schools. Reagan must have learned something about treating gays with respect and dignity during his years as an actor.

    DeMint, as most of the Republican Party these days, is pretty far to the right of Reagan.

    I'm also reminded of David Frum's tale of the head of a major Republican organization giving a wolf like grin while explaining that Republican donors are convinced that the apocalypse is at hand. At first glance it would seem that DeMint is much more qualified to be in the Senate than to be the head of an organization that is in charge of setting conservative intellectual trends and forming conservative policy recommendations. But if one considers all the money Republican institutions are able to rake in from poor yet wealthy victims needlessly terrified by conservative media that an evil black anti-Christ is in the process of destroying America forever, the choice of DeMint at Heritage makes more sense purely from a business and mareting point of view, not from an intellectual or policy point of view at all. If Heritage is any kind of bellweather for the Repubican party, we can see what direction it is still heading in: onward over the political cliff.