Retreating, Not Surrendering: Soon-to-Be-Ex-Senator Jim DeMint

Before Ronald Reagan’s handlers decided to embrace Jerry Falwell’s doubly-oxymoronic “Moral Majority“, the most conservative American Protestant groups were so aloof from the traditional structures of national politics that some Baptist preachers apparently encouraged their congregants not to vote. Paul Weyrich, a paleo-Catholic, was the co-founder of that ‘Moral Majority’ — and also the founder (with Coors brewery money) of the Heritage Foundation.

The political activism of the Falwell/Weyrich/Terry Dolan/Richard Viguerie/Howard Phillips Moral Majority was based on the concept, or fantasy, that the bulk of real Americans were white Judeo-Christian paternalist-authoritarian Republicans who needed only proper direction to take over (“reclaim”) their rightful control of every important political office. A generation later, President Obama’s re-election has made it obvious even to the most ideologically-fixated (if not to the stubbornest and/or stupidest) that white suburban conservative Republican voters are a decreasing minority — and that their definitions of “morality” are losing political ground even faster. (Even the Mormons, those gutless traitors, quietly shifted post-election from ‘homosexuals are damned’ to ‘same-sex attraction is not a sin, but acting on it is‘.)

Media opinion on Senator Jim DeMint’s announcement he’s decamping for the Heritage Foundation seems to be that DeMint has decided it’s (financially, at least) better for him to be outside the Capitol preaching in, than inside preaching out. Hendrick Hertzberg at the New Yorker diagnoses “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… 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.

The big Washington story of the moment is the battle between conservative Republicans and very conservative Republicans over whether or not to hold the economy hostage in order to prevent marginal income-tax rates on the top two per cent from reverting to the slight higher Clinton-era levels. A parallel story over the next few years may be the quiet struggle between A.E.I. and Heritage for Republican hearts and minds. A.E.I. may have the advantage when it comes to minds, but Heritage is where the hearts are. Heritage was founded in the first place because the older organization was considered too squishy. Even so, badthink has sometimes crept in. It was Heritage, you may recall, that invented the “individual mandate” that became the basis of Obamacare and, earlier, Romneycare. DeMint is unlikely to tolerate any such outbreaks of left deviationism at Heritage. Under him, its grip on the organ of G.O.P. emotion can only strengthen. Its grip on the organ of reason, such as it is, is apt to fare less well.

Further damning details on DeMint’s career from Timothy Noah at TNR, on the “Filibusteringest Senator“:

… “Being a senator was never going to be my career,” DeMint explained. Indeed, being a senator never interested him much even during the seven years he served in the Senate.

By this I don’t mean that DeMint was a latter-day Cincinnatus who served his country reluctantly out of sacred duty. I mean that DeMint didn’t like participating in Senate business…

… Legislating from the Senate floor means either writing amendments or filibustering, and when your party is in the minority, as DeMint’s has been since 2006, their practical aim is usually identical—to prevent a particular bill from being passed. According to the anti-filibuster Web site Filibusted, DeMint had the highest “obstruction rate” in the previous Congress, voting against cloture motions 93.8 percent of the time. On one occasion in 2010 DeMint threatened to put a hold on every single piece of legislation before the Senate that he did not favor. DeMint recently wrote that “opposing cloture is not a filibuster,” but merely “an attempt to leverage some participation in the legislative process.” …

DeMint’s departure would appear to be yet another manifestation of the post-election GOPocalypse. DeMint, who’d already said he wouldn’t seek another term in 2016, told the Wall Street Journal that he was leaving four years before his term ended “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.” […] In the Senate he leaves behind, DeMint will not be missed, even (perhaps especially) by his GOP compatriots.

Kelefa Sanneh, who usually covers culture for the New Yorker has a post on “the evolution of Jim DeMint“:

Five years ago, toward the tail end of the Bush era, Jim DeMint, a first-term South Carolina senator, teamed up with J. David Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson, to write a book about the limits of politics. The book was called, “Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say It’s Wrong,” and its ominous front cover depicts Uncle Sam with his index finger to his lips…

In the preface, the authors warn that America is embroiled in “a serious culture war,” and the book is full of stories about liberal secularists eager to drive religious faith out of public institutions—and, by extension, out of public discourse. The book is, in part, an assault on the notion that “public” and “private” spheres can be neatly delineated. The authors write, with approval, about the decades-long effort to stigmatize and marginalize cigarette smokers. “The detrimental effects of smoking on individuals and society make it ‘right’ for the government to discourage smoking,” they argue. In their view, a similar case can be made against “the homosexual lifestyle,” which is, they say, “notoriously unhealthy and destructive, with huge financial costs to society.” Using the language of public health policy, they also deliver indictments of gambling, unmarried cohabitation, and Internet pornography, which they call “the new crack cocaine.”…

Woodard, DeMint’s former co-author, said he wasn’t surprised that DeMint was leaving the Senate. “He never made the Senate’s inner club, anyway,” Woodard said, by telephone. “He was not accepted by the Lamar Alexanders, the John Cornyns. He was not one of the fellows—even though he, personally, was not acrimonious, or bitter. But nonetheless, his positions were uncomfortable.” DeMint has been widely credited with helping to nurture a new generation of upstart Republican legislators, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul; all of them had to defeat establishment-backed opponents in Republican primaries before winning their general elections….

As I understand it, the Southern Baptist “retreat from the Godless government”, post-WWII, was largely a reaction to the “encroachment” of the Civil Rights movement — defined as Negroes, Jews, blue-collar Catholic immigrants, and city-bred social scientists (Socialists) invading their “timeless, traditional” post-Reconstruction political fiefdoms. Falwell, Weyrich, and their fellow Severely Conservative activists “arose” because, by the 1980s, the right wing of the Republican party decided there were enough second-generation White Flight suburbanites attending ‘non-denominational’ mega-churches to constitute a voting bloc worth pursuing (manipulating).

Jim DeMint’s retreat from the government arena might be an indication that the pendulum is ready to swing back, with the Regressive Party once again retreating to its gated communities. But while they may not have raw numbers or demography on their side, let’s keep in mind that the South’s feudal barons didn’t give up after losing the first American Civil War, and I doubt they’ll give up on their dreams of s Second Reconstruction, either. If (as I currently expect) Rick Santorum is the GOP presidential nominee in 2016, look for Jim DeMint to have a prominent role in the campaign. And maybe the promise of the next Supreme Court seat, as well.

95 replies
  1. 1
    redshirt says:

    I’m still a bit shocked Demint is leaving the Senate. Something about this story doesn’t smell right – even for the substantial jump in salary, it still doesn’t make sense.

    Have there been any more details on the “why?”

  2. 2
    Joseph Nobles says:

    If this is so, then I do feel like filibuster reform is part of DeMint’s calculus. It’s actually going to happen and he’s losing a vast amount of his power in the Senate. So why not go pick up a paycheck while getting the Good Word out?

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    @redshirt:

    The most persuasive theory I’ve heard is that he is planning on running for Prez in 2016, and he believes it’s better to run as an outsider rather than as a member of what will be a very dysfunctional Senate GOP caucus.

  4. 4
    magurakurin says:

    Have there been any more details on the “why?”

    I feel the same way. Not really sure how taking your hand off the lever gives you more power. Something is amiss. I’m thinking there is soon to be a story involving meth snorting and glory holes….

  5. 5
    Vico says:

    @Baud: This is my thought as well, though I hadn’t seen it articulated before. He’s a very ambitious guy.

  6. 6
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “If (as I currently expect) Rick Santorum is the GOP presidential nominee in 2016, look for Jim DeMint to have a prominent role in the campaign. And maybe the promise of the next Supreme Court seat, as well.”

    I doubt Santorum is going to be the next GOP presidential candidate. That’s a bridge too far, even for the crazy Repubs. In an increasingly diverse and progressive United States, Santorum would be dead on arrival.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @magurakurin:

    a story involving meth snorting and glory holes…

    I have a new most persuasive theory…

    @Vico:

    He must see that there is really no one strong in the social conservative space right now. Santorum is the best they’ve got.

  8. 8
    Rathskeller says:

    I was hoping someone here had the answer, or even a rumor. If it’s a dead hooker/live boy type of story that just hasn’t come out yet, I don’t see how being at the foundation will help him.

    This makes zero sense with what’s been publicly announced. He is losing incalculable amounts of power and influence.

  9. 9
    Delia says:

    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.

    Speaking theologically this is just bizarre. The guy is off in looney-tunes land.

  10. 10
    Maude says:

    @magurakurin:
    Something doesn’t smell right. He won’t have power at the foundation. He won’t get the media coverage he’s had as a dingbat Senator. Maybe he’s getting out before a “bomb” explodes that would tank him.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    @Delia:

    I don’t think it’s that bizarre. Religious organizations derive some of their power from the services they provide to captive adherents. If the government provides an alternative, these organizations lose some of their clout. It’s not quite a zero-sum game, but the sentiment isn’t off the wall.

  12. 12
    Rathskeller says:

    Maybe it was Alvin Greene. Let’s say he’s discovered that the FBI is close to indictment for illegally interfering with the Democratic primary. Either he did it himself, or there is a RICO indictment where he knew of the plan and didn’t stop it.

    He would lose a Senate seat for a trial, but he could be Head Martyr Persecuted by Tyrant Obama at the foundation while the proceedings are underway.

  13. 13
    General Stuck says:

    @redshirt:

    Why do nutters do almost everything they do. The answer is big payola. I read somewhere in the neighborhood of at least seven figures, maybe 8. It is grifter central at the wingnut think tanks, and The Heritage Foundation is at the apex of that. Basically, for the purpose of building a better wingnut. Putting doofus Demint in charge of anything is beyond me, as is paying him huge sums of money.

    Best i can guess, they are about to embark on some new political tactics to get power back, that could make Atwater blush from the grave. And Demint in charge would be the perfect neo confederate sociopath for such an undertaking, as being pretty much a reincarnated relic of old Dixie. Hear no evil, see no evil.

  14. 14
    Narcissus says:

    Maybe it’s a undead-boy-hooker kind of thing

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    @Narcissus:

    Jim DeMint: Vampire Gigolo

  16. 16
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Delia:

    Theologically, that’s not much of a god he’s talking about there.

    Unless, of course, one thinks of God as Santa Clause and if the govt is willing to be a sugar daddy folks won’t be so dependent on God’s largess.

  17. 17
    Keith G says:

    @redshirt: @Baud:
    I think Demint has enough brain cells to snap to a revelation that now is his time to let the magic of the market place do it’s thing and allow him to cash in. His salary will increase ten fold and he will have ample opportunity to play king maker. There is no time in the foreseeable future when he would be a logical choice for a GOP nominee and village politics is not that rewarding for the large mouthed lone wolf type. Tea Party 1.0 reached it’s peak in 2009-2010 and Demint is getting out while the getting is good.

  18. 18
    redshirt says:

    @General Stuck: I don’t know. Money is usually a means to power. DeMint is giving up real power for more money, which seems to be a backward step.

    Maybe it is just the payday – dude doesn’t seem very bright. But still. Fishy.

  19. 19
    Delia says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Precisely. Or he thinks he’s got some super algorithm that lets him predict God’s every move. Which makes Jim DeMint god. Which means the religious right has reduced itself to an absurdity if they hadn’t already gotten around to doing so.

  20. 20
    General Stuck says:

    @redshirt:

    The Heritage Foundation is the birthplace of all sorts of crazy right wing theory and policy. And has been since the 70’s. That is what they do there and some of it has been fruitful for the wingnuts in the past.

    And putting Demint in charge is a pretty good sign they are setting about the pushing of the envelope. I think it is debatable whether he is leaving power, or going to more of it, or a different kind of it. As related to the conservative movement and how to put it back together. Plus the money. It’s SC, so there are plenty of right wing whack jobs to take his place in the senate, and not miss a beat.

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    @General Stuck:

    No reason it can’t be both. Win-win for DeMint.

  22. 22
    Redshift says:

    I’ve said it often and I believe it—the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

    Yeah, I remember all those times DeMint railed against the godless Greatest Generation, with their big government…

  23. 23
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Baud:

    The most persuasive theory I’ve heard is that he is planning on running for Prez in 2016, and he believes it’s better to run as an outsider rather than as a member of what will be a very dysfunctional Senate GOP caucus.

    If the rumor is true, it’s certainly better for him to spend the next two years schmoozing rich donors & networking at the state/local GOP level, rather than playing Chief Toddler throwing tantrums as President Obama & the Democrats forestall his beloved ‘moral’ initiatives, and maybe even take away the sacred filibuster.

    But everything I’ve read indicates that DeMint is basically uninterested in the ‘political’ side of political office — he doesn’t want to craft (or even read) bills, he doesn’t want to negotiate, he just likes standing in front of a captive audience telling them they’re not as good & pious as he is.

    Maybe he believes the comforting wingnut fantasy that the last one-term Senator to capture the White House just walked into a sinecure due to white guilty and minority favoritism?

    He’ll have to fight Santorum for the Most Socially Intolerant slot — Santorum made it clear this week he is not giving up on national politics — and Sick Rick has the advantage of being the 2012 runner-up, which in Repub tradition means 2016 will be “his turn.” Santorum’s already proved the Protestant bigots will vote for him, and he has his own cadre of nutball proteges, like Mike Lee. Maybe he looks in the mirror and hears his God telling him, “Don’t worry, Jim, together we can do all things”, but I’m not sure he can find enough big-dollar donors to elevate him over Santorum, or even Huckabee (who has a big advantage in the media side of RWNJ equation).

  24. 24
    Redshift says:

    Heritage was founded in the first place because the older organization was considered too squishy. Even so, badthink has sometimes crept in. It was Heritage, you may recall, that invented the “individual mandate” that became the basis of Obamacare and, earlier, Romneycare. DeMint is unlikely to tolerate any such outbreaks of left deviationism at Heritage.

    I don’t think the conservative “alternative” to the Clinton health care reform was ever sincere. Its purpose was to give them something to claim they were for, instead of just being against everything. In that context, it’s no surprise they opposed “their own idea” once it gained the support of Democrats. The only oddity is Romney actually implementing it successfully, rather than just as a conservative FU to a Democratic state.

  25. 25
    the Conster says:

    Demint’s the Billy Zane character on the teatard Titanic. All the groups that were empowered this election aren’t ever going to let these grumpy old white guys be the boss of them again. Shit’s hit the fan, the bell has been rung, that egg has been scrambled, and there’s no going back. He’s a dinosaur, there’s a lifeboat waiting for him, and he’s taking the money and running.

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    I agree that Santorum’s trying to remain a player, but his greatest strength was that he was the least clownish non-Romney. I don’t think he has staying power. Huckabee and DeMint seem to occupy the same space. Business doesn’t seem to like Huckabee, however, and DeMint’s new stint at Heritage will give him inroads into that world.

    DeMint might be uninterested in running, but just because he was uninterested in being a legislator doesn’t mean that he would be uninterested in running for the top dog position. (I don’t think he would be a “policy” guy – just someone who would like the accolades and the bully pulpit.) In any event, regardless of what we think of his chances, the question is, what does he think of his chances?

  27. 27
    CW in LA says:

    Wait, so every step in the direction of a Swedo-Canuck style Moocher’s Paradise shrinks DeMint’s god? Not like I needed more incentive to advocate for one, but damn…

  28. 28
    Maude says:

    Landry loses to Dem in LA03. Last 2012 race to be called.

  29. 29
    Jim Faith says:

    @redshirt:

    I’d suggest that he’s Palin-lite – an opportunistic grifter who quit when the actual business of governing got tough. He’s now in a position to make more money spewing rightwing garbage with absolutely no accountability whatsoever.

  30. 30
    Baud says:

    @Redshift:

    This. The Heritage plan was developed under duress. It was never meant to be implemented. Romney messed up their plans when he decided his best route to the Presidency was to run as moderate Mitt and actually implemented the damn thing.

  31. 31
    redshirt says:

    @General Stuck: Yeah, sure, HF is a powerful wingnut “think tank”, but it’s still just that – a “think tank”. DeMint was king of the Senate Wingnuts and arguably the head guy in government speaking on their behalf. Now he’s another dude at at Think Tank. Think Tanks try and influence policy via lobbying. As a Senator, DeMint was actually involved in making those policies.

    Again, seems a step backwards to me. But maybe the obvious answer is the correct one – all about the Benjis.

  32. 32
    eemom says:

    @General Stuck:

    I think it is debatable whether he is leaving power, or going to more of it, or a different kind of it.

    I don’t usually care for emmessemm wannabe Steve Karnacki over at Salon, but he had a decent column on this the other day, plausibly arguing that it’s a smart move for Demented and yes, to a more powerful position within the conservatard “leadership.”

  33. 33
    Jamey says:

    I’ve said it often and I believe it—the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

    Whyzzit that those who claim the greatest faith are the ones who have the least faith in the power of God.

    Maybe governments are the instrument of His will? Ours is not to second-guess the Creator, so why not just let go the wheel and let him drive, mixed-metaphor, palms-upward supplication, beatific look … and. Scene.

  34. 34
    ChrisNYC says:

    There’s no scandal. DeMint left because he had no future in the Senate. Nobody liked him. He made his play and lost in the people he backed in 2010 and 2012. So, because non electeds have power in the GOP, he went to Heritage.

  35. 35
    Joel says:

    Even morons like Demint can read trends.

  36. 36
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Under him, its grip on the organ of G.O.P. emotion can only strengthen. Its grip on the organ of reason, such as it is, is apt to fare less well.

    Uhhh… I’m not sure that ’emotion’ or ‘reason’ is the organ DeMint really has a grip on…

    Just saying’…

  37. 37
    efgoldman says:

    @General Stuck:

    Why do nutters do almost everything they do. The answer is big payola.

    The halfway almost normally motivated ones, sure. But then there are genuine true believers. I give you former Senator Santorum, for example.
    @Patricia Kayden:

    I doubt Santorum is going to be the next GOP presidential candidate. That’s a bridge too far, even for the crazy Repubs.

    Five-six years ago I might have agreed with you. Now? I wouldn’t bet anything valuable. Especially if the likely Dem nominee is melanin-enhanced or has ladyparts or both.

  38. 38
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Baud:

    Santorum’s trying to remain a player, but his greatest strength was that he was the least clownish non-Romney. I don’t think he has staying power. Huckabee and DeMint seem to occupy the same space. Business doesn’t seem to like Huckabee, however, and DeMint’s new stint at Heritage will give him inroads into that world.

    Huckabee’s appeal to ‘centrists’ in both parties is that he presents himself as the Repub version of Clinton — a good ol’ boy who’ll squeeze out a tear for the oppressed white working class and poor lil poverty-stricken babies at risk from their drug-addled sex-crazed teenage parents. (While enabling the One Percent & their megacorporations to further exploit those blue-collar hicks & rugrats, but still, Big Bidniz fee-fees are turruble senstive, y’all.) If he decides to try again, he’ll be shilling to the Limbaugh listeners, not ‘business’ interests.

    Sanctorum’s got the crazed-weasel even-unto-somebody-else’s-death crowd, the Shiavo humpers and black-helicopter homeschoolers, firmly behind him now. Come 2016, the “Business” wing of the GOP will be touting Jeb! or maybe one of the Southern-based ‘brown skin, white heart’ mini-Jebs like Rubio or Jindal. No telling what kind of weird froth will churn to the top of the GOP septic tank by then, but (barring some kind of personal scandal) I’ll bet a box of store-bought cookies that Santorum will be one of the earliest to declare and one of the last to drop out.

  39. 39
    Redshift says:

    @redshirt:

    As a Senator, DeMint was actually involved in making those policies.

    Except that based on his Senate record, he wasn’t. He grandstands and obstructs, and enforces the “policy” that almost anything government tries to do is bad.

    It does make you wonder what he’s going to do with Heritage, since most of what they ostensibly do is policy (or at least pretending to make policy), and that’s something that DeMint appears to have no interest in.

  40. 40
    mir13 says:

    Good riddance to the useless fuckwad. Looks like it was his Waterloo instead. Large, economy-sized moran.

  41. 41
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Redshift: which is why this time when presenting their own plan, the released an empty binder, which the press dutifully reported was their plan.

  42. 42
    redshirt says:

    @Redshift: Stopping policies from getting made is making policy, of a sort. He surely has had an outsized influence on the workings of the Senate at least over the past 4 years.

    I read that part about him being played out – 2012 was the year they were going to achieve real power (“global power”) when Romney won the White House and then gave the nutter carte blanche to wreck our shit. But with Obama’s win, this dream is gone, so he’s now… a Senator Nobody?

    Fishy.

  43. 43
    Baud says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    I don’t even want to think about what a personal scandal involving Santorum would be about…

  44. 44
    the Conster says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Republicans simply can’t win a national election starting out forfeiting the west coast, the northeast, the upper midwest and half the mountain states plus Florida, which they do nominating anyone out of the old Confederacy. Preacher Huckabee isn’t the answer, Scold Santorum isn’t the answer, Kenneth the Page Jindal isn’t the answer, and another Bush? Really?

  45. 45
    redshirt says:

    @Baud: Caught molesting a Catholic Priest. Maybe?

  46. 46
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Maude:

    Landry lost, but not to a Dem. It was a GOP runoff.

  47. 47
    PeakVT says:

    @Maude: No, one Republican (Landry) lost to another (Boustany) in a runoff.

  48. 48
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    The Southern Baptist part of it wasn’t really that closely aligned with the Moral Majority. The wiki article is a pretty good summary.

    The campaign began around 1960. It was launched with the charge that the seminaries and denominational agencies were dominated by liberals. Its initiators called it a Conservative Resurgence[1] while its detractors have labeled it a Fundamentalist Takeover.[2] The movement was primarily aimed at reorienting the denomination away from a perceived liberal trajectory[2] and towards an unambiguous affirmation of biblical inerrancy.[3]

    Now, the SBC did eventually get mixed up with the political part, but originally, it was more theological. Jerry Falwell didn’t become a Southern Baptist until 1997.

  49. 49
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Jim DeMint is one of these: Some men just want to watch the world burn.

  50. 50
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I’ve said it often and I believe it—the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets

    That’s the most damning admission of God’s impotence I’ve ever heard come out of the mouth of a so-called “believer”.

    “Ye of little faith” indeed.

  51. 51
    GregB says:

    The GOP’s safe districts are going to be melting away due to demographic trends.

    DeMint is the equivalent of a Mayan shaman urging more sacrifices to the God’s of GOP purity.

    He promised more of what 2010 brought and got humiliated along with the rest of the saps, rubes and snake oil salesmen like Rove and the worst person in America, Dick Morris.

    It’s why they are losing their fucking minds, their game is over.

    The smart chameleons like Frum and Brooks will morph into whatever it takes, the rest of the GOP is going the way of the DoDo.

    DerMint is going to the king of the What Could Have Been Caucus.

    Good riddance.

  52. 52
    Ellyn says:

    @magurakurin: Me, too. I suspect Repugs had something on DeMint and he had to get out fast.

  53. 53
    Roger Moore says:

    @Redshift:

    It does make you wonder what he’s going to do with Heritage, since most of what they ostensibly do is policy (or at least pretending to make policy), and that’s something that DeMint appears to have no interest in.

    His job will be to schmooze with big money donors and appear on talk shows to present the Heritage Foundation’s take on things. He’s basically the public face of the organization, not the brains.

  54. 54
    Elizabelle says:

    I love that part of the URL to Timothy Noah’s article is “Wingnut requiem.”

    That sounds like the opera from hell.

  55. 55
    Yutsano says:

    @Roger Moore: I didn’t think he was much of a schmoozer, but I guess we’ll see. No matter what the whole thing smells like there’s an undercurrent of something beyond just da munniez.

  56. 56
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Count me in as another who believes that there is something big and awful trying to smash its way out of DeMint’s closet, and that we’re going to find out what it is sooner rather than later.

    Most Americans have no idea what a think tank is, much less what Heritage is. His explanations, such as they are, for why he’s doing this make no sense at all.

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:
    I was thinking more in general terms of why a think tank would hire a non-wonk politician to head it, rather than why they would choose DeMint specifically. The key point is that the policy stuff is actually going to be coming from low-level wonks, not from the president. At the same time, the real organizational power for a place like that usually comes from the handful of rich donors who fund it. That leaves the President to be a figurehead and sock puppet for the secretive money people behind the group.

  58. 58
    efgoldman says:

    @GregB:

    The GOP’s safe districts are going to be melting away due to demographic trends.

    Not in a real big hurry. The 2010 sweep which led to the 2010 redistricting saw to that. The key stat: Dems took a majority of the total congressional vote in several key states, but the GOBP retained their majority of seats.
    The GOBP can do an awful lot of damage in the meantime, e.g. Wisconsin and Michigan.

  59. 59
    cmorenc says:

    @Baud:

    The most persuasive theory I’ve heard is that he is planning on running for Prez in 2016, and he believes it’s better to run as an outsider rather than as a member of what will be a very dysfunctional Senate GOP caucus.

    If so, this is a pure delusional mix of vanity and ambition driving DeMint. The GOP hard-core base may indeed be feverish enough to flirt with making DeMint one of the leading favorites during the very early part of the caucus/primary process in similar fashion to Michelle Bachman’s temporary early rise, but the flirtation will melt like an brief Dixie snowstorm by sometime early in February once the realization sets among enough of them that they need to nominate someone who’s at least plasibly electable in enough of the country outside the deep south.

  60. 60
    Mike in NC says:

    JimBob DeMented: in your guts you know he’s nuts.

  61. 61
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    A bit of vulgar sociology: Minty Jim is from Greenville, in upstate SC, and the upstate seems to foster this weird mixture of godbotherer conservatism and glibertarianism. The upstate is also the Scotch-Irish bit of SC (Clemson orange, Bob Jones and Ian Paisley). It’s not really Deep South: it’s Dixie Flag territory, but it’s also RonPaul goldbuggery and its ilk.

    Personally, I think it’s a sign that Heritage, for all of its pretensions of being haughty establishment wingnut welfare, wants to tap into Minty’s upstate synthetic bullshit.

  62. 62
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    I doubt Santorum is going to be the next GOP presidential candidate.

    Yes, it feels preposterous, and Man-on-Dog will be ten years gone from holding elected office, but if the “runner-up is the winner next time” rule holds, then Santorum was the runner-up in 2012.

  63. 63
    scav says:

    By leaving now, he may be positioning himself as untainted by any association with a Congress that will probably have to cooperate with Obama on a few things (maintaining his purity without the slight stench of actual obstructionism, whichnis beginning to poll poorly) as well as providing some time for his outsider virginity to be plastic surgeried back into place. Heritage at least differentiates him from the mosh pit casting couch at Faux.

  64. 64
    efgoldman says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    …but if the “runner-up is the winner next time” rule holds, then Santorum was the runner-up in 2012.

    Naah. FSM doesn’t love us that much.

  65. 65
    master c says:

    bigger paycheck-no smoking gun

  66. 66
    amk says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    sick rantorum/jim demented 2016. god bless ‘murka.

  67. 67
    Mike in NC says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: About a week or so back, USA Today gave Frothy Mix half a page to write an op-ed about how the GOP could rebound in the next election cycle(s). He definitely assumed for himself the mantle of front runner in 2016. FWIW.

  68. 68
    Anne Laurie says:

    @amk:

    sick rantorum/jim demented 2016. god bless ‘murka.

    Naw, the non-Talibangelical wing(s) of the GOP will demand some kind of token representation. If Santorum is indeed the Next in Line, the underticket (as of now) goes to Rubio or Jindal or even Nikki Heley, all of whom can present themselves as ‘pro-business’. Jeb! won’t take second place to Sick Rick, but his nephew George P. (‘the little brown one’) might. Distant chance, Herman Cain — also a self-proclaimed Business Champeen — or even Michele Bachman, if she doesn’t do anything too crazy between now & 2014, for Diversity.

    I have faith in the GOP’s ability to throw up waaay more crazy between then & now, however. Santorum at the top of the ticket, but Murphy the Trickster God only knows what kind of “talent” will end up on the VP platform!

  69. 69
    rob! says:

    “Rick Santorum is the GOP presidential nominee in 2016”

    I got a hard on just thinking about that. In related news, Dick Morris has already predicted a Santorum landslide of approximately 635 electoral votes.

  70. 70
    redshirt says:

    Egads, the Republican bench is as deep as pond scum. And not as cool.

  71. 71
    Short Bus Bully says:

    Just gotta say that I’ve enjoyed the HELL out of reading this thread. WIN, snark, rapier wit, and constructive insight all in one place.

    Balloon Juice rox sox.

  72. 72
    Laertes says:

    Seems like a reasonable move, from DeMint’s perspective. His life as head of HF will be much more satisfying than his life as a Senator. Consider:

    – He’s not very popular with his colleagues. The old guard view him as something of a pest. The young ones that love him, they’ll still take his calls even if he’s not a Senator anymore.

    – He won’t have to stand for re-election.

    – He won’t have to raise money for his own campaign. He’ll still be raising money at Heritage, but that’s a significantly less grubby affair. Heritage is bigger than any one Senator.

    – He’ll be taking home more pay. It’s nice to have a pretty house.

    – Being in the minority sucks. DeMint is no idiot, and he saw the same 2012 results the rest of us did. He knows perfectly well that the Republicans aren’t likely to retake the Senate any time soon.

    – He already achieved everything in the Senate that he can reasonably hope to achieve there. He made his mark on the body by bringing a bunch of his young firebrands in. The Republicans can’t legislate. What else can he do there?

    – He goes out a winner. As the Republican machine continues to fall apart in the coming years, none of that will stick to DeMint.

    If I were Jim DeMint, I like to think that I’d have the foresight to make exactly the same move.

  73. 73
    JWR says:

    Having read thru the comments, I have to go with Occam’s Razor.. If there’s no body, then it’s really all about the benjamins. (Notwithstanding the hope that maybe, just maybe it’ll suddenly be Mourning In America (ie. 1980) all over again.)

  74. 74
    redshirt says:

    @Laertes: Good arguments. I’m swayed a bit. But I can’t get over the quitting aspect of all this. Much like Palin, leaving during his term smacks of weakness and scandal rather than bold stand for American freedoms. Just like with Sarah, who tried to spin her resignation as some glorious act for the Party. Didn’t work for her, and it won’t work for DeMint. Who really gives a fuck what the HF says these days other than Republicans, and DeMint was just bossing them all around for real! He’ll have no such power now.

  75. 75
    JustAnotherBob says:

    Why should he stay in the Senate?

    It sounds like he does not have to skills or desire to work with people who think differently than he does in order to get some input in majority decisions.

    Reid seems to be ready to take away the lazy-man veto. He probably won’t be able to gum things up with a wiggle of his finger like in previous years.

    At best he could steer a bit of pork toward his state, but probably not all that much. The Republicans who will rake in most pork will be the ones willing to vote with Democrats at least once in a while.

    He gets to call himself Senator for the rest of his life. He’s put in his five years and can pull full retirement when he turns 62 in the fall.

    He’ll get a really nice office, full Cadillac health care, chef, driver, and company jet. He’ll be surrounded with people telling him how great he is and sharing the same whack-assed opinions. And he can say all the nasty things he wants to about the blah guy in the White House without worrying about being censured.

    Money.

  76. 76
    magurakurin says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    indeed. And that reminds me that the loss of Heath Ledger was huge. Best. Villain. Ever.

  77. 77

    Do we expect to see DeMint on the talk shows? Does he get any love in the Village?

  78. 78
    Maude says:

    @James E. Powell:
    He got a lotta love on rightie radio. He is truly whacked.

  79. 79
    Tim in SF says:

    @redshirt: Have there been any more details on the “why [he’s leaving the Senate]?”

    Maybe it’s simply a matter of money. After all, Jim DeMint is the poorest member of the Senate. With the move to Heritage, he’ll be jumping up to a million bucks a year.

    He’ll be in good company:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTmXHvGZiSY

  80. 80
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @redshirt: Good point. Why not just announce he’s not running again next year, collect his Senate salary and start working for the Foundation part-time? His staff does routine stuff, he attends just the mandatory votes, and prepares to leave.

    It could be health. Maybe he wants to collect while he still can collect the money, work around his health issues (he would completely control his schedule, wouldn’t have to make many public appearances except for talk shows and donor parties), and forestall any public scrutiny about them.

  81. 81
    Capri says:

    @redshirt:
    In the interest of spreading unsubstantiated gossip –

    One rumor as to the why for both Demint and Dick Armey have suddenly switched jobs is that it came out that the groups they control spent money towards primary opponents of sitting Republican senators. Something they expressly swore they would not do. The case I have heard discussed was backing Mourdock vs. Lugar, but there were a few other instances as well.
    Somebody high enough up the Republican food chain was able to force them both out without leaving their fingerprints.

  82. 82
    The Dude Abides says:

    @Tim in SF:
    DeMint’s net worth is only about $40K. He might be (along with fellow wingnut Joe Walsh) one of the two or three poorest members of Congress. He’ll be paid a million a year at the HF…huge step-up in pay.

  83. 83
    Laertes says:

    @redshirt:

    I’m not sure it DOES smack of weakness, though. Unlike Palin, he doesn’t leave under a cloud of ethics investigations, having done a generally crummy job for less than a full term.

    He’s quitting, it’s true. But he seems to be quitting while he’s still on top. The rising stars of the party all owe their places in the senate to him. He’s not diminished by any scandal, his re-election isn’t obviously threatened, and he’s served eight years.

    Bonus: He’s leaving under conditions that ensure that his seat stays in the party, another professional flourish that lots of pols can’t manage.

    I wish the other side were all a bunch of silly, incompetent clowns like Bachman. DeMint, though, he’s a sharp operator, and I expect he’ll be a huge force in shaping the public dialogue for decades. Alas.

  84. 84
    Chris says:

    I know the thread’s dead, but what the hell:

    The political activism of the Falwell/Weyrich/Terry Dolan/Richard Viguerie/Howard Phillips Moral Majority was based on the concept, or fantasy, that the bulk of real Americans were white Judeo-Christian paternalist-authoritarian Republicans who needed only proper direction to take over (“reclaim”) their rightful control of every important political office.

    IMO, their biggest fantasy is the notion that because their congregations so fiercely cling to “Christianity” as a tribal label (something that differentiates them from the filthy Moses-worshipers, Mohammed-worshipers and Euro-loving “secular humanists” on the other side of the tracks) that somehow means that they also care about “Christianity” as a system of values.

    Truth is that a large portion of these congregations are just as happy to indulge in booze, sex and other crimes against God as the rest of us “sinners,” even though it’s all done with a wink and a nod and a “don’t tell the pastor” subtext. And even if they like the church as a social club for Members Of The Right Tribe, I suspect a lot of these guys would be very uncomfortable with their pastor (or someone like him) having real power in political office.

    True Believing leaders of the religious right don’t just misread the country, they misread their own congregations too.

  85. 85
    Chris says:

    @Baud:

    Religious organizations derive some of their power from the services they provide to captive adherents. If the government provides an alternative, these organizations lose some of their clout. It’s not quite a zero-sum game, but the sentiment isn’t off the wall.

    This exactly.

    It also explains why even though official Catholic teachings are often identical to socialist ones when it comes to taking care of the poor, restraining capitalism, etc, in practice the Catholic Church has often happily allied itself with capitalist interests against socialism. Don’t want the competition, now do we? It might “create a dependency” – gasp! – on someone other than the Church.

  86. 86
    Chris says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Huckabee’s appeal to ‘centrists’ in both parties is that he presents himself as the Repub version of Clinton—a good ol’ boy who’ll squeeze out a tear for the oppressed white working class and poor lil poverty-stricken babies at risk from their drug-addled sex-crazed teenage parents. (While enabling the One Percent & their megacorporations to further exploit those blue-collar hicks & rugrats, but still, Big Bidniz fee-fees are turruble senstive, y’all.) If he decides to try again, he’ll be shilling to the Limbaugh listeners, not ‘business’ interests.

    Except the Limbaugh interests don’t like him either. He’s seen as soft on crime and soft on immigration.

    Without the base and without the elites, I think Huckabee’s candidacy is dead before it begins. (That’s in addition to what I said about a lot of people not liking the idea of their pastor holding political power).

  87. 87
    Chris says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Jim DeMint is one of these: Some men just want to watch the world burn.

    Back when the teabagger movement was rising for the first time, my diagnosis of the Republican Party leadership; “Lex Luthor’s out, the Joker’s in.”

    Sadly, the Joker is still in.

  88. 88
    Thomas Beck says:

    Please leave the Jews out of this (“that the bulk of real Americans were white Judeo-Christian paternalist-authoritarian Republicans”), we don’t have enough tsuris that we have to be blamed for the right-wing Christians’ mishegoss?

  89. 89
    brantl says:

    I’ve said it often and I believe it—the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

    Maybe his problem is that his “worshippers” aren’t really worshippers, just “rice-christians”? this seems likeliest to me.

  90. 90
    Yutsano says:

    @Chris: Huckster is dogmeat because of four dead cops in Washington he is directly responsible for. After that tragedy he won’t come near a political office ever again.

  91. 91
    Chris says:

    @Yutsano:

    Yep. That’s what I meant by “seen as soft on crime.”

  92. 92

    […] Retreating, Not Surrendering: Soon-to-Be-Ex-Senator Jim DeMint (balloon-juice.com) […]

  93. 93
    Full Metal Wingnut says:

    Santorum? 2016 nominee? Come on, that’s a pretty bad call.

  94. 94
    Chris says:

    @Full Metal Wingnut:

    We can only hope they do it then, eh?

    And heck, Romney was a mittastrophic choice too.

  95. 95
    Pseudonym says:

    The problem with Santorum isn’t that he’s a tedious moral scold with no charisma. The problem is that he’s a fucking wimp and a whiner, and though he does manage to show the proper disdain for the rest of humanity that’s expected of a GOP candidate, he does it from a position of weakness rather than strength. I’d be very surprised to see him as the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 even if he’s technically in line for the job. (In contrast, I totally anticipated both McCain and Romney being nominated. I swear, just don’t ask me to cite that.) I’m still thinking John Ellis or Crispy Creme unless a better alternative pops up.

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