DeMint is now officially Too Big For His Britches

Folks, this is really embarrassing. Throughout our history, U.S. senators have not exactly been known for modesty. Fritz Hollings, for instance, was no shrinking violet. Being one of only 100 in the country, with some pretty weighty constitutional responsibility, can go to one’s head. Add in the tradition going back to ancient Rome, and you have a formula for bombast.

But I have never heard or read of any one senator taking upon himself such a megalomaniacal presumption as what Jim DeMint has taken upon himself with this latest move:

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in an extraordinary move, has warned the other 99 U.S. senators that for the rest of the legislative session this year, all bills and nominations slated for unanimous passage must go through his office for review…

Normally, senatorial ego is limited by the understanding that there are 99 others just like you, which is the wellspring of senatorial courtesy. The notion that the world does not revolve around YOU is something that we start teaching our children as we’re trying to get them beyond the Terrible Twos. Most of us pick up on it by the time we reach the age of majority, at least to some extent.

But if Jim DeMint had ever been familiar with this concept, he has forgotten it.

Contrast this obnoxious cry of ego, if you will, to the quiet way that Lindsay Graham has worked behind the scenes to have a salutary effect on foreign policy since the election of Barack Obama. Despite the imperative of satisfying his left wing, I keep seeing Obama do things in Afghanistan and elsewhere that show a marked pragmatism, a reassuring wisdom. And apparently, Sen. Graham is one of the main reasons why:

A new book by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward describes U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham as playing a central role in the formation and execution of President Barack Obama’s war policy in Afghanistan through his close ties to Vice President Joe Biden, Gen. David Petraeus and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The book by the former Watergate reporter, Obama’s Wars, contains vivid and previously undisclosed portrayals of Graham’s closed-door conversations and confrontations with Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other key figures.

Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. troops in Iraq who now holds the same post in Afghanistan, describes Graham as “a brilliant and skillful chess player” whom the general admires for his ability to navigate the power channels of Washington.

Talk about your polar opposites — the ball hog vs. the guy who just wants to make sure his team wins. And his team (and this might come as a shock to Jim Demint) is the United States of America, NOT the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, which Sen. DeMint seems to think is his country.

And what is Jim DeMint trying to accomplish in all this, aside from self-aggrandizement? Note this in The Washington Post:

Consider the case of Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, the new Republican kingpin and enforcer on Capitol Hill. DeMint claims he was misquoted by Bloomberg Businessweek last week as saying that his goal for the next Senate is “complete gridlock.” But you’d never know it from the way he’s behaving during the Senate’s do-nothing, pre-election legislative session. DeMint makes no apologies for saying that there’s no place for bipartisan compromise or consensus or some “watered-down Republican philosophy,” as he put it. For DeMint, this is war. The only acceptable outcome is total victory, and any Republican who dares to disagree will be treated as a traitor during the next election cycle.

And of course, he’s trying to get in a position to accomplish all this by such moves as supporting such candidates as Christine “Witchy Woman” O’Donnell.

I’ve never been more proud of Lindsey Graham, or more embarrassed by Jim DeMint. This moment has been coming, but I never suspected it would go this far.

36 thoughts on “DeMint is now officially Too Big For His Britches

  1. bud

    Lindsay Graham has worked behind the scenes to have a salutary effect on foreign policy since the election of Barack Obama.
    -Brad

    I guess you must really believe this crap since you continue to write about. Some beliefs are simply inexplicable. Graham hasn’t worked “behind the scenes”. He’s become an outspoken and very vocal advocate for getting tough on the Iranians, even suggesting we may need to use air power to stop them from developing nuclear power plants.

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  2. bud

    At least you know where DeMint stands. His political beliefs are probably the worst on the planet so it’s easy to marginalize him by simply ignoring what he says. Graham on the other hand is far more dangerous. He hides behind his phony mantel of bi-partisanship while pushing ever more dangerous policies such as war with Iran, repeal of the stimulus package and a return to the days before health care reform. I neither like nor trust Lindsey Graham. He’s a wolk in sheeps clothing and very dangerous.

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  3. Doug Ross

    If what DeMint is doing is constitutionally valid, he has every right to do so. If the people of South Carolina don’t like it, they have the option to vote him out in about a month. I’m sure Senator Alvin Greene will not behave like Senator Jim DeMint.

    Compromising your principles in the name of politics is something we can leave to Senator Graham. That’s the big difference between Graham and DeMint. DeMint doesn’t have to work behind closed doors to negotiate which principles he is willing to trade for political gain. DeMint is out there in front of the people saying “Here’s what I am going to do because it is what I believe is right for the people of this country”.

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  4. Ralph Hightower

    I wish there were a viable and credible opponent to DeMint. Brad, as you say, he is acting childish by having a “Terrible Two” temper tantrum. The linked Washington Post article notes DeMint’s childish behaviour also: “You’re thinking that, once the heat of the election season has passed, cooler heads will prevail and DeMint and the other anti-government zealots will return to their rightful place on the fringes of the political system, leaving it to the grown-ups to get things done.”

    I am not voting for DeMint or Greene in November. I am writing in “None of the above”

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  5. Brad

    Anyone else have anything to say about this? I mean, anyone who doesn’t automatically disagree with whatever I say, apparently because I said it?

    OK, I’m just going to keep repeating to myself, “But we had a consensus on the curfew issue…”

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  6. Mike's America

    DeMint is doing the jobs that we who voted for him sent him to DC to do.

    I have NO problem with him using every tool he has to protect the interest of SC voters.

    Especially as we learn that Dems have a plan to cram through yet another huge pile of ____ in the lame duck session.

    Brad, perhaps you ought to write about THAT instead of chiding DeMint!

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  7. Doug Ross

    @brad

    Once you start agreeing with bud and me, we’ll be all set.

    It just amazes me that you find fault with politicians who do EXACTLY what they say they will do when they run for office. And you admire guys like Graham and McCain who change positions on issues depending on what cycle of the election they are in. McCain 2010 is completely different from McCain 2008. Graham is a “Convenient Conservative” who appears to like working in the back rooms instead of in front of the public (like the “racists” who opposed his immigration plan).

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  8. Kathryn Fenner

    I rolled my eyes when I read the headline in The State–another embarrassment for SC–the Political Buffoon State…and I was heartened to see how effective and statesmanlike Lindsay was reported to be. Sorry I was late commenting–I was actually participating in the our democracy by trying to make our city a safe place–I try to be constructive….

    Of course DeMint can roll logs all he wants to–but should he? Is he just Sanford on a national level–let’s obstruct government until it gives up? Oy!

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  9. bud

    I’m just expressing my opinion. I don’t like Lindsey Graham and find it frustrating that some folks do like him and his brand of politics. I disagree with DeMint virtually 100% of the time but in some ways I respect him. He says what he believes and doesn’t back down because of some Pollyanish notion that compromise is a good thing. Sometimes it is but on some issues you just need to stand your ground.

    And yes I agree on the curfew issue.

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  10. bud

    Mikes thinking is correct except that he supports the wrong party. Sometimes you do need to be firm and forceful. I think it’s a good thing if the men in white hats, the Democrats, force through positive legislation over the objections of the increasingly idiotic GOP. And if the GOP can stop them let them have at it. But if the Dems bough down to the threats of the GOP they deserve all the scorn and ridicule that comes their way.

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  11. Jamie Sanderson

    Why does it take someone donning it “official” for people to take notice of Jim DeMint’s embarrassing and unproductive actions. Before this, there’s been many opportunities for the corporate media to expand on. His votes against the jobless are one subject. I wish the people actually had more journalists in this medium – not tied to whether an ad keeps them afloat – so they may get the full truth.

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  12. Doug Ross

    @bud

    I agree with you. I would have had greater respect for Obama and the Democrats had they tried to push through a true single payer healthcare system than the mess of lobbyist giveaways and massive confusion they ended up with.

    The whole “filibuster” tactic also drives me crazy. So the Republicans want to filibuster. MAKE THEM DO IT! Don’t just go by some parliamentary rule you agreed to. The Democrats have the votes to pass the bills they want. They need to make the Republicans hold up the process for days or weeks if necessary. Let the people see them filibuster. Let’s see which Republicans have the guts to be the point man.

    This is why I supported Ron Paul. He has his beliefs and he sticks to them. What we have is 500+ sellouts in Congress doing what is best for them financially and politically.

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  13. Steve Gordy

    There’s nothing “constitutionally valid” about what DeMint is doing; he’s just using the Senate rules to put pressure on the leadership. There’d be no problem if he weren’t already on the record as being committed to diehard opposition to anything that has even a whiff of “liberalism” about it. But if he pulls this off and the Tea Party wing of the GOP make significant gains in the Senate this fall, Mitch McConnell better not turn his back on Jim.

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  14. Karen McLeod

    I think DeMint is a megalomaniac who has no interest whatsoever in what is best for the country. For those who dislike compromise: that is what prevents wars. It is only when people can work out a solution acceptable to all that one can avoid bloodshed. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach that makes progress impossible.

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  15. MIke Layman

    Regardless of whether you think Demint’s position is a good idea or not, remember that there are 99 other large egos in the Senate who forget nothing. Next time this state needs something for the good of all of us, and one of the other 99 egos puts a hold on it because of Demint’s action, I hope those who believe Demint’s hold is a great idea will still be so supportive.

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  16. Brad

    Exactly, Mike. Every one of those is taking note of what Jim DeMint is doing with his 15 minutes. If his brand of extreme Republicanism is as successful on Nov. 2 as it looks like it will be, then the swing of the pendulum the other way is going to give him whiplash when it turns on him. This is a weird moment in this nation’s political history, but it is no more than that — a moment.

    And they’re all going to remember. All 99 of them. Usually, when a member of one party or the other gets carried away with his momentary ascendancy, he only has to worry about half of the Senate having it in for him. Now, there will be 99 looking for the chance to slip a figurative shiv into his ribs.

    He’d better stay away from Pompey’s statue.

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  17. Mark Stewart

    If one is to be a Senator, it would seem that one would be well-served to have a firm grasp of history. Maybe DeMint does – and he’s just making hay while the sun still shines on him.

    I do hope that someone of political stature – Republican or Democrat – is looking ahead to 2016.

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  18. jfx

    “Here’s what I, Jim DeMint, am going to do, because it is what I, Jim DeMint, believe is politically expedient for me, Jim DeMint.”

    There. Fixed that quote for ya, Doug.

    We have one senator, Mr. Graham, who is serious and thoughtful enough to understand that the ability to debate, negotiate, and occasionally compromise on complex matters is itself a matter of “principle”. It’s about respect.

    And then we have this cartoon of a man, Mr. DeMint, who has figured out that by simply throwing anti-liberal red meat out to his low-information electorate over and over, they’ll keep dumping money and votes into his pocket. I wouldn’t call him a genius, but he’s smart enough to have found a way to live comfortably by exploiting people who aren’t big readers.

    I see Lindsey Graham taking a lot of political risks that DeMint doesn’t seem to have the guts or character to take. Lindsey’s the bigger man. Can you imagine DeMint ever saying something kind about Obama, much less actually working with him to solve large complex problems? Hell no. That would be risky. And hard! It’s easier not to work with the “other side”. You don’t have to get bogged down in messy, dirty, tedious facts, or spend much time hammering out real policy distinctions. Instead, you get to spout empty boilerplate like “Liberty!” and “Freedom!” and “Limited Government!” and have your ego stroked enthusiastically by fellow patriotic freedom-fighters who share your disdain for complexity.

    This is bad for SC. But politically it’s a win-win for DeMint AND Obama. DeMint can ride the low-information wave to easy re-election, and Obama/Biden will cruise in 2012 by painting DeMint, Boehner and friends as the angry, red-faced, no-vision, no-compromise, blowhard poster children of the GOP…which won’t be a stretch at all since those guys already come off as angry and clueless with no help from the Left.

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  19. Doug Ross

    Considering that DeMint has already stated that he will not run again in 2016, you think he cares what the other Senators think they can do to him?

    Imagine that – a Senator who doesn’t think he needs to stay in office beyond 12 years. Someone who goes to Washington to get something done and then moves on instead of becoming a permanent fixture making millions from the position (yes, I’m talking about Lindsey Graham).

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  20. Brad

    Yes, a senator who is determined to do as much damage as he can possibly do, then walk away. It’s hard to imagine anything less responsible or accountable, or more dangerous.

    And you know who made it possible for him to do this? Alvin Greene. Or rather, the people who actually, contrary to anyone’s ability to explain it, voted to nominate him. Their actions have empowered Jim DeMint to act like this.

    This is what runaway, unaccountable government actually looks like.

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  21. Doug Ross

    @jfx

    Obama’s cruise to victory in 2012 is going to be pretty rocky if unemployment is still around 10%. That’s all that will matter. 6% = win, 10% = one and done.

    Go look at Lindsey Graham’s financial statements sometime. Amazing how a guy can become a multi-millionaire while holding down a job that pays less than $200K.

    I know it drives people like you crazy that a politician might do the things he was elected to do. Unlike Obama, who has backtracked, sidestepped, reversed field, and punted on everything he talked about in early 2008, DeMint is doing what he told the voters he would do. Some people like that in a man.

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  22. Doug Ross

    @brad

    Your definition of “damage” is apparently “stopping runaway deficit spending”. I hope DeMint completely damages that objective. I hope he doesn’t stop doing damage until Congress stops spending money it doesn’t have.

    And I assume the 70% of voters who vote for him in a month feel the same way. Sometimes being in the minority means you are also wrong.

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  23. Doug Ross

    Let’s inject some facts into the rhetoric:

    “Under the “hot-line,” or unanimous consent, process that has been used for years, the Senate majority and minority leaders move ostensibly noncontroversial bills and nominations quickly through passage.

    DeMint and some other senators think that process increasingly has been abused, with important but controversial measures “hot-lined” in order to avoid politically difficult roll-call votes.

    Senators are supposed to be notified in advance of all bills or nominations to be moved via unanimous consent. An objection from even one senator is enough to stop such an item.

    Wesley Denton, DeMint’s spokesman, said Senate leadership aides often leave phone messages about such bills late in the day, after staffers have gone home, and then presume that non-responses to the messages constitute agreement.”

    Read more: http://www.thestate.com/2010/09/29/1487352/demint-the-bill-stops-here.html#ixzz10yUnoEhc

    So it’s not so awful on DeMint’s part to expect the Senate to do what it is supposed to do and stop them from playing political games. He’s doing the right thing in this case.

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  24. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Karen–
    DeMint is a true believer. Noam Chomsky was on NPR the other day, talking about how the Weimar Republic was a pinnacle of achievement on so many measures, yet Hitler was able to sweep in and achieve nearly 90% approval by 1939–he was a “true believer” motivated by genuine fear. Chomsky dismissed Back, Limbaugh and Palin as charismatic leaders because they are not true believers. I fear DeMint is.

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  25. Ralph Hightower

    Before Graham, with five other Republicans and six Democrats, became the Gang of Twelve, Democrats were promising to use the nuclear option to derail Bush’s judicial appointees.

    DeMint is the Tea Bagger’s nuclear bomb for the Senate.

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  26. kc

    And you know who made it possible for him to do this? Alvin Greene. Or rather, the people who actually, contrary to anyone’s ability to explain it, voted to nominate him.

    Please don’t forget the media that, contrary to anyone’s ability to explain it, utterly failed to do their jobs and gave NO coverage to this race before the primary.

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  27. Doug Ross

    @Kathryn

    So DeMint is Hitler-esque? Did you read The State article that gave DeMint’s explanation? Seems like he is trying to do the right thing – preventing congressional leaders from fast-tracking bills using questionable tactics (calling for approval after hours and then forging ahead). DeMint is trying to get our government to be open. He’s taking the only option available to him to stop a bad practice.

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  28. Doug Ross

    And here’s the key word in the article that everyone appears to be missing:

    “all bills and nominations slated for UNANIMOUS passage must go through his office for review”

    He’s trying to stop fast-tracking efforts that allow congressmen to avoid having to vote on the record. He’s not stopping all bills, just those that the leadership want to pass without having any debate. Doesn’t seem so terrible when you know the facts, does it?

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  29. j

    Doug, when you say in response to Brad, “Your definition of “damage” is apparently “stopping runaway deficit spending”. I hope DeMint completely damages that objective. I hope he doesn’t stop doing damage until Congress stops spending money it doesn’t have.”

    If you are not pulling our leg, where in the hell have you been for the last 10 years? Deminted voted for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy which have added $3T to the deficit, for Medicare Part D which was not paid for nor did it allow for govt to negotiate prices with the drug cos and have funded, but not paid for, two wars. You may need a check up from the neck up.

    With an economy in which deregulation started by Reagan and the Pres. since have been complicit, Congress under Bush have further adopted a tax policy that encourages exporting jobs, our country now has an economy that is over 70% comsumption. Go ahead and stop “the spending” before we recover sufficently so we all may get a head start toward the poor house – third-world nation status. We’ve got to start manufactoring things for which there is a demand or will stimulate investment so we increase employment in the USA so people can live to spend and save again.

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  30. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Doug Ross– Read what I said and don’t take it out of context–DeMint is potentially more effective than the media blowhards because he actually totally believes what he’s doing is right. He’s also apparently somewhat charismatic. Thus, he can be as effective as Hitler, despite his beliefs.

    I think if everyone acted as DeMint is, the government would grind to a halt. I realize a lot of people think this is a good thing. I do not.

    Remember how the government shutdown in the 90s finished off the Contract With America hegemony? Newt is not a true believer, or at least he has scattered beliefs, if the New Yorker profile is accurate. Who knows about DeMint?

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  31. Doug Ross

    @Kathryn

    Do you think DeMint should just go with the flow and allow the leadership of both houses of Congress want to pass a bill thru unanimously using questionable tactics?

    That’s all this is about.

    I’m not convinced that DeMint as the messenger is as important as the message he is sending. He’s not charismatic in my opinion. He’s just right. It’s not about fear, it’s about doing the right thing.

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  32. Mark Stewart

    If DeMint wanted to show leadership instead of making a grandstand play on this issue he would have demanded that the senate leadership provide all “hot-line” bills to all SENATORS ahead of time.

    He did not do that; he said all bills had to go through HIS office.

    That’s why he will be nothing but a forgotten footnote in history.

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  33. Brad

    Yeah. Doug, our engineer, is focusing on technicalities and basically missing the point that DeMint has made a gesture here that is breathtakingly inappropriate. If you deal in politics or any other pursuit involving interpersonal relations, you understand that this guy just crossed the Rubicon. He’s pulled a “Crazy Joey” Gallo move. He’s done something that you just plain don’t do unless you’re going all the way and plan to stride over everyone in a position above you…

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