Category Archives: Jim DeMint

Man, that Tommy Pope’s looking better all the time

First, Nikki Haley gave Ralph Norman money.

Now there’s this:

5th District congressional candidate Ralph Norman got a big boost Thursday, winning the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-Greenville.

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DeMint, the former head of the Heritage Foundation and a Tea Party icon, said Norman “has a proven record of fighting for conservative principles” and would help “drain the swamp” in Washington.

“His conservative voting record shows that he will stand up for taxpayers against the special interests, and fight for personal freedom, lower taxes and a smaller government.”

DeMint’s endorsement comes as a new poll from the Trafalgar Group shows Norman and his GOP runoff opponent, House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, R-York, in a virtual tie, heading into Tuesday’s election….

Yikes. Remember that Jim DeMint was most recently in the news for getting canned by the Heritage Foundation for being too Trumpy for the taste of some GOP board members, although there are disputes about the “why.

I dunno. I just remember Jim as the GOP’s voice in the wilderness crying, The problem with us that we’re just not right-wing enough!

Which, you know, was not cool…

DeMint not getting much love among conservative intelligentsia

DeMint in an editorial board meeting, February 2007.

DeMint in an editorial board meeting, February 2007.

This item, from the WashPost’s Jennifer Rubin, jumped out at me a few minutes ago:

Jim DeMint’s destruction of the Heritage Foundation

In addition to the damage done to the GOP by his penchant for right-wing antics, of which the shutdown fiasco was only the latest, Jim DeMint, the president of Heritage Foundation, has ushered in a new era in the once-proud conservative think tank’s history.

Under DeMint, Heritage Foundation has been subsumed to the interests of its sister organization, Heritage Action. As a result, Heritage Foundation is suffering a grievous slide in intellectual integrity and influence. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is the latest of many conservatives openly to express concern about the think tank. He told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd this week, “Right now, I think it’s in danger of losing its clout and its power around Washington, D.C. There’s a real question in the minds of many Republicans now, and I’m not just speaking for myself, for a lot of people that [question is]: is Heritage going  to go so political that it really doesn’t amount to anything anymore.”…

First, he did much to damage the Republican Party by becoming its self-appointed arbiter of “purity.”

Now, this. If Jim has fallen out with people who love what the Heritage Foundation has stood for, his range of friends has definitely narrowed…

Jim DeMint not getting much respect on immigration — and that’s among conservatives

Jim DeMint, former far-right kingmaker, isn’t getting a lot of respect in his new role at the Heritage Foundation — even among conservatives.

Earlier this week, he put out a report suggesting that immigration reform as envisioned by the Gang of Eight will cost the country $6.3 trillion. The report is, quite understandably, ridiculed and excoriated on the left. But conservatives, people DeMint would once have counted as allies, aren’t very positively impressed either.

Kimberley Strassel made a point of that in her column in the WSJ today:

The Heritage Foundation on Monday released a report designed to kill immigration reform. A few days later, nearly 30 leaders, hailing from the core of the conservative movement—think tanks, faith groups, political and advocacy organizations—signed a public letter backing the congressional process. Which got more notice?

The media glory in conflict, and so they devoted this week to the angry feud/war/battle in the GOP over immigration reform. The evidence? One research document from one think tank. The real news is the growing unity among conservative leaders and groups over the need to at least embrace the challenge of reform. This is no 2007.

At the height of that past fray over immigration—as restrictionists whipped up seething grass-roots anger against reform, drowning out proponents—Heritage released a similar report. It fueled a raging fire, and played a singular role in derailing reform…

Very interesting. I don’t know to what extent this truly reflects a growing “conservative” consensus for sensible immigration reform, but it’s promising. (It would also be good news for Lindsey Graham for next year, although the DeMint faction in SC remains large.)

My own favorite comment on this general subject came more from the center-right — from David Brooks — earlier in the week. For him, it was a pretty scathing piece. An excerpt:

The opponents of immigration reform have many small complaints, but they really have one core concern. It’s about control. America doesn’t control its borders. Past reform efforts have not established control. Current proposals wouldn’t establish effective control.

But the opponents rarely say what exactly it is they are trying to control. They talk about border security and various mechanisms to achieve that, but they rarely go into detail about what we should be so vigilant about restricting. I thought I would spell it out.

First, immigration opponents are effectively trying to restrict the flow of conservatives into this country. In survey after survey, immigrants are found to have more traditional ideas about family structure and community than comparable Americans. They have lower incarceration rates. They place higher emphasis on career success. They have stronger work ethics. Immigrants go into poor neighborhoods and infuse them with traditional values.

When immigrant areas go bad, it’s not because they have infected America with bad values. It’s because America has infected them with bad values already present. So the first thing conservative opponents of reform are trying to restrict is social conservatism….

It goes on in that vein. Good stuff.

View of Jim DeMint changed radically after the 2004 campaign

I was rather startled to run across something I’d written about Jim DeMint in 2004.

For so many years now, I’ve seen him as a hyperpartisan ideologue, as responsible as anyone in the country for pulling his party into Tea Party extremism right up until his recent resignation from the Senate, that I’d forgotten I used to see him differently.

Here’s what I wrote right after the 2004 election, when he had defeated Inez Tenenbaum in the contest to replace Fritz Hollings:

While I criticized Rep. DeMint heavily for choosing to run as a hyperpartisan (despite his record as an independent thinker), there’s little doubt that that strategy was his key to victory. The president won South Carolina 58-41, and Mr. DeMint beat Mrs. Tenenbaum 54-44, demonstrating the power of the coattail effect. I congratulate him, and sincerely hope he now returns to being the thoughtful policy wonk he was before he wrapped himself in party garb in recent weeks.

Wow. What a difference a few years make. “Thoughtful policy wonk?” I only vaguely remember that Jim DeMint.

So that’s when it began. Before the 2004 campaign, I saw him as a fairly thoughtful guy. But I guess that campaign showed him what red meat could do for him…

SC had two of the 10 most-mentioned senators

There was an interesting tidbit in the Smart Politics piece that I mentioned in my last post:

For although DeMint was simply 1 of 100 in the senate, he was also an unofficial voice of the Tea Party, one of the most vocal critics of Barack Obama, and among the Top 10 most mentioned senators in broadcast media reports.

That made me think, Yeah, but I’ll bet Lindsay Graham is mentioned even more.

Sure enough, when I followed that link, Graham was at No. 6, and DeMint was ninth. (John McCain came in first, followed by Marco Rubio. Only two Democrats, Harry Reid and John Kerry, made the Top Ten.)

These two young fellas have made quite a mark, even though they are newcomers by our accustomed Thurmond/Hollings standard.

Tim Scott will have a lot to live up to.

Gail Collins on SC politics

This ran a couple of days ago, but was only brought to my attention today:

Tea Party favorite Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina has departed, too, even though his term was only half over, to answer the siren call of a seven-figure job at the helm of the Heritage Foundation.

Thanks to the blog Smart Politics, I am able to report that this is normal behavior in South Carolina: one-third of all U.S. senators from South Carolina have resigned over the course of our history. (South Carolina is also the state that gave us the guy with the cane back in 1856.) DeMint was replaced by Representative Tim Scott, whose seat will be filled in a special election this spring. Right now one of the possible candidates is Mark Sanford, the governor who we all remember for flying to Argentina for an assignation with his lover while his staff claimed he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Another much-discussed potential contender is Jenny Sanford, former wife of the above. People, while you are praying for a safe, sane and peaceful new year, I want you to make a small exception and pray that Jenny and Mark Sanford run against each other…

The “guy with the cane” thing was a reference to Preston Brooks, who practically beat Charles Sumner to death on the Senate floor — which made him wonderfully popular back home (northerners, not understanding the ways of Southern gentlemen, were outraged). Which is kind of SC politics in a nutshell.

I found the piece over at Smart Politics interesting — the one about how a third of SC senators have resigned (The last was Strom Thurmond, who promptly ran again and was elected back to his seat). Even though, of course, we’ve only known four senators in the past 46 years. No wait, five counting Tim Scott now.

We don’t need special elections to replace senators

Rick Quinn has an idea that sounds good — especially under circumstances that empower Nikki Haley to make the decision unilaterally — but I can’t go for it:

S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn (R-Lexington) today submitted legislation for pre-filing to change the way vacancies are filled for the office of United States Senator. If enacted, the bill would require a Special Election to be held to fill any future vacancies.  To explain his legislation, Rep. Quinn released the following statement:

“This proposed legislation is not intended in any way as a criticism of Governor Haley or any of the outstanding leaders she is apparently considering for appointment to the United States Senate.   I am certain they would all do a fine job.

My concern is the lack of public involvement in the process of selecting a person to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate.  The present system allows a governor to pick a replacement for up to two full years before any votes are cast.

No one person should be able to select a U.S. Senator for the over four million citizens of South Carolina.  When we vote for our United States Senator, it is one of the most important electoral decisions we make.  One person should not be empowered to appoint that position for such an extended period of time.

An incumbent United States Senator has a huge advantage.  Not only can incumbents raise far more money than challengers but also the bully pulpit gives incumbents a forum unavailable to those who might run in the future.  It is a simple reality that money and media access dominate the modern election process.

The present system gives an appointed Senator what may well amount to an overwhelming advantage before an election is held.  That is why all candidates for the office should start from a level playing field as soon as possible when a vacancy occurs.  This gives the voters more choices and a more decisive role in choosing their next U.S. Senator.

The need for change is highlighted by the fact that the U.S. Senate is the only Federal office handled in this non-democratic manner.  In fact, if the Governor appoints any of the current elected officials on her short list, the law would require an immediate special election to fill those vacancies.

Looking around the nation, many states have gone to a special election process to fill vacancies in the U.S. Senate.  Today, fourteen states would call for an immediate special election.  Under current South Carolina law, a special election would take sixteen weeks to conduct.

Unexpected vacancies happen from time to time.  It’s part of life.   Any way we fill those vacancies will have flaws.  But we must not dilute the people’s right to choose their representation at the ballot box.  It is a fundamental right in our American system of governance. “

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The Framers of our system intended for each constituent part of our government — the House, the Senate, the president and vice president, the judiciary — to be balanced in a number of ways, including having very different methods of selection, meaning they answer to very different constituencies.

Senators were supposed to represent states, not groups of voters like House members. We made the Senate more like the House when we passed the 17th Amendment — although they are still elected by all of the voters of a state, rather than the voters of narrow districts, which is something. I have yet to be convinced that was an improvement.

A better idea than Rep. Quinn’s would be to let the Legislature choose an interim senator. That would return us to the original idea, and it would address the problem Rick is too polite to confront, which is having a U.S. senator being chosen on the basis of Nikki Haley’s political priorities.

But there’s no question that Rick’s idea would be more popular than mine.

Yes, that’s what we have experience for

While I was out with the flu, we had a good-news-bad-news situation arise here in South Carolina.

The good news was that Jim DeMint was leaving the Senate.

The bad news was that, incredible as it still seems every time I’m reminded of the fact, Nikki Haley is actually the governor of our state.

But looking on the bright side even of that, Gov. Haley inadvertently explained something important yesterday (while meaning to say the opposite):

COLUMBIA, SC — Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday (sic — since this was in this morning’s paper, I’m assuming she actually said it Wednesday) that political experience is not a requirement for the successor to resigning U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint.

Haley will name that successor, and two of the governor’s five reported finalists for the coveted seat – former first lady Jenny Sanford and state agency head Catherine Templeton – have not held elected office.

“It is not about time in office, which I think is the wrong way of looking at government,” said Haley, who was a political newcomer when she won a state House seat in 2004. “It’s the effect and the result they can show in office.”…

Focus on that last sentence: “It’s the effect and the result they can show in office.”

Indeed. In fact, in deciding who might be suited to public office, you have no better guide than what you have been able to observe that person doing in public office in the past. Nothing else is truly useful.

Of course, if she were to elaborate, the governor would no doubt say that what she meant was “the effect and the result they SAY they can show in office,” since with populist ideologues of her ilk, it’s all about the talk and the theory.

But no practical person gives what a candidate says he will do even a hundredth the weight of what the observer has actually seen that candidate do under real-world conditions.

That’s the test.

A reasonable person would not insist upon experience in a school board or city-council candidate, although it’s nice to have. One can excuse the lack of it in a state legislative candidate, if one doesn’t have a better alternative. But the United States Senate? Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith aside, when you have a universe of qualified people out there to choose from, there is NO excuse for choosing a public-office novice. None whatsoever.

And for any who don’t understand the difference, experience running a business — or running your husband’s gubernatorial campaigns, or occupying a government job to which your friend the governor appointed you and in which you have not under any stretch of the imagination distinguished yourself — are not the same as having been elected by the people to public office and spent observable time in that fishbowl, discharging the duties of that office.

South Carolina’s U.S. House delegation is nearly full of relative neophytes (the governor’s kind of people) who at least have spent a couple of years each in an office that is a reasonable precursor to the Senate. Beyond that, the Republican Party has in the past generation produced a large number of potential senators with better resumes that that.

Under the circumstances, there is no excuse at all for choosing inexperience.

We knew this was coming, didn’t we?

After the 2008 election, Jim DeMint and others cried that the reason Republicans lost is that they just weren’t right-wing enough, and they should never have nominated an iconoclast like John McCain.

It was patent nonsense, but the GOP listened, and so we got the Tea Party madness, and Nikki Haley, and Sarah Palin as a national celebrity, and a presidential nominating process that a year ago was letting the flake of the week take turns leading the pack.

It was inevitable, of course, that someone would say after Tuesday that despite all that saturation in ideology, Romney’s problem was that he just wasn’t right-wing enough (and remember, four years ago, Romney was the preferred candidate of people like DeMint). And in this release, someone did:

The Real Reason Romney Lost

Now that Mitt Romney lost to one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history, the question many are asking is why?

Political pundits on the Left and Right are claiming that Romney appealed too much to the “extreme Right fringe” and was not “moderate enough.”  The truth is that the exact opposite is true.

It is virtually impossible to win a national presidential election without your base on election day as 1976, 1992, 1996, and 2008 all demonstrated. Unfortunately, the GOP elites thought the pro-family/pro-life Christian base would hold their proverbial noses and vote for their candidate regardless.  They were wrong!

Fast forward to 2012 and many of us warned that if the GOP once again nominated an establishment approved liberal like Romney that it would assure 4 more years of the Obama in the White House since, again, it’s virtually impossible to win without your base on election day.

But once again, the elites who run the GOP (Reince Priebus, Karl Rove, The Bushies, the folks over at Fox News, the Weekly Standard and National Review) rammed yet another establishment liberal RINO down our throats who was, from the very beginning, destined for defeat.

Obama’s base turned out Tuesday night.  Romney’s  didn’t.  And why should they have?  After all, in just the past few months, Romney did virtually everything possible to snub the very same Evangelical conservative GOP “Values Voters” base ( whose support he would need in every one of the key swing states he lost last night) by:

  • Refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony and Personhood U.S.A pro-life pledges.
  • Reaffirming his opposition to bans on homosexual scoutmasters.
  • Opposing 100% pro-life, pro-family, across the board conservative Senatorial candidate, Todd Akin.
  • Running pro-abortion ads in key pro-life swing states.
  • Stating that “abortion legislation” and Chick Fill-A was not “part of his agenda.”

Santorum was right when he said that Romney was the “worst Republican in the country to run against Obama.”

Having lost his own senate re-election bid by 18 points in 2006 by snubbing his own base (by supporting uber-liberal Arlen Specter over conservative primary challenger Pat Toomey), Santorum was all too familiar with what happens when your base stays home on election day.

The GOP elites should have listened to Santorum.

So, how do we stop perpetually repeating this mistake every 4 years you ask?  Simple.

Christian and conservative leaders and grassroots citizens must make it clear that we will, under no circumstances, compromise our core moral and spiritual beliefs.  We will not support godless liberals like Romney for public office no matter how many time the liberal GOP inside-the-beltway elites tell us our 100% pro-life, pro-marriage, pro- rule of law Constitutional conservative Christian candidate isn’t “electable.”

When we set the standard based on God’s authoritative Word and tell those running to represent us that if they don’t meet that standard that they will not get our support, I believe we will get candidates who truly represent us.

There are obviously millions of Christians and conservatives who don’t subscribe to the utilitarian-secular-humanist and anti-Biblical “lesser of two evils” construct and they refused to cast a vote for the most radically pro-abortion, pro-homosexual governor in the history of the Republic regardless of who his opponent was.

If the GOP is serious about reversing course in the next election they may want to run actual candidates whom the base will actually turn out for on election day.

Because, as Romney proved, you don’t win without your base on election day…

That email, by the way, came from one Annie Fischer, who appeared to be writing on behalf of one Gregg Jackson, author of a book entitled We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

But despite that title, there appear to be certain people who will keep getting fooled over and over, continuing to believe unlikely propositions despite evidence to the contrary.

Silly me, for thinking DeMint cared what I thought

Couldn’t help responding to Jim DeMint today when he Tweeted,

My response was in two parts. First, I answered his question: Yes!

I had read with interest the top story in The Wall Street Journal this morning, which said that the long logjam on national legislation to require online businesses to pay sales taxes just like their bricks-and-mortar competitors may finally have broken:

Republican governors, eager for new revenue to ease budget strains, are dropping their longtime opposition to imposing sales taxes on online purchases, a significant political shift that could soon bring an end to tax-free sales on the Internet.

Conservative governors, joining their Democratic counterparts, have been making deals with online retail giant Amazon.com AMZN -1.09% to collect state sales taxes. The movement picked up an important ally when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—widely mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate—recently reached an agreement under which Amazon would collect sales taxes on his state’s online purchases in exchange for locating distribution facilities there.

Mr. Christie called taxation of online sales “an important issue to all the nation’s governors” and endorsed federal legislation giving all states taxing authority.

This should lead to quick resolution, in a rational universe, since Amazon has said they support a national solution. And that’s very good news for states like South Carolina, which have unwisely shifted so much of their tax burdens to sales taxes just as conventional, “analog” store sales have been drying up.

I was particularly interested because the change that had come about was that Republican governors, such as Chris Christie, saw the need to do something about the fact that their states’ coffers had been depleted by the shift of our economy to online shopping.

It caused me to wonder what it would be like to have a real conservative Republican governor, rather than a darling of the Tea Party or the Club for Growth, one who — like any real conservative — believes in responsible governance, one who sees his or her role as a steward of the state’s public sector.

And then I remembered, that I did experience that, for years, when Lamar Alexander was governor in Tennessee. And so it is fitting that Lamar is the senator pushing this legislation:

Seizing on the recent political shift, Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, and co-sponsors from both parties are attempting to speed up action on a bill they wrote to give states authority to compel online companies to collect sales taxes.

One of the co-sponsors, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.,) said, “It gets down to a basic issue…of simple fairness for small businesses that create jobs and opportunities all across America. And with the sales taxes they collect, they provide for local police and firemen, for the sewers and streets.”…

Oh, but wait… as soon as I said, Yes!, I realized that Sen. DeMint’s question was purely rhetorical, meant only to set up his announcement that he’s leaping into the fray to fight against common sense.

You can always rely on Jim DeMint. Unfortunately.

Silly me, for thinking Jim DeMint cared what I thought.

What, Me Worry about what YOU think?/File photo from an editorial board meeting in 2007.

‘Waterloo’ DeMint: President Obama deserves ‘slap in the face’

In his never-ending quest to chase civility right out of our politics, Jim ‘Waterloo’ DeMint has now contributed the following:

“If the court throws it out, I think it’s a well-deserved slap in the face to the president and the Congress to make us think that what we’re here for is to honor our oath of office, which is the pledge to defend the Constitution, which limits what we can do,” DeMint said.

I realize that you can’t tell from that what the issue is. You might reasonably infer that Mr. Obama is trying to declare himself king or something, with that hyperbolic nonsense about honoring the oath of office and defending the Constitution. But these people talk like this; it doesn’t have to make sense.

No, the administration’s great sin here, the imagined flouting of the Constitution, is trying to address the inexcusable farce of the way we pay for health care in this country.

You know what? I think I’m going to become a straight-ticket voter. I’m going to vote against anyone who advocates Conan the Barbarian politics. You know what I mean: The sort of politics that holds that the greatest things in life are:

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.