Major Mandel Backer Jim DeMint: Failure

I wouldn't want to be a Republican strategist right now (fat chance!)

Their party is disintegrating. As it spins further and further to the extreme right, it's shed sanity, support, voters, and members.

I wrote earlier this week about how "moderate" (i.e. hardcore conservative but not batshit insane) congresswoman from Missouri Jo Ann Emerson has joined northeast Ohio fake "moderate" Steve LaTourette in retirement.

Two more stories broke at the end of this week that demonstrate what a hard time the GOP is having keeping itself together. They come from opposite ends of the Republican spectrum.

One is that former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who had already left the GOP to become an independent, officially became a Democrat, not a huge surprise or a big stretch.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/charlie-crist-signs-p...

We can officially stop speculating on whether the 56-year-old Crist, who finally got married three years ago after numerous "engagements" (Floridians like to joke that he got engaged every time he ran for office and broke it up immediately after the election) is gay. Crist has never personally been anti-gay; now he doesn't belong to the party pushing the persecution of LGBT people. I always say if you're not part of the group trying to regulate other people's private lives, there's no reason to be interested in yours.

At the far, far, far, far other end of the ideological spectrum, we have soon-to-be former U.S. Senator from South Carolina Jim DeMint. Ugh. I'd rather not have him — and luckily, we won't, at least not in the U.S. Senate. He's stepping down from his seat to head right- wing "think" tank the Heritage Foundation.

http://www.salon.com/2012/12/07/jim_demint_failure/?source=newsletter

I like how author of this piece Joan Walsh refers to the foundation as not a "Think Tank," but a "Talking Points Tank." It exists not to do research on policy issues and provide well-grounded information to back policies, but to push right-wing ideology. DeMint should be right at home.

DeMint famously said during the health-care reform debate, ""If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." (How did that work out for you, Jim? About as well as your colleague Senator Mitch McConnell devoting his entire being to making Obama a one-term president, eh?)

DeMint is also the fountainhead of "wisdom" like this:

We saw within a few days that this President was going to be heavy-handed, he was going to implement his agenda and pay back his political allies, and it just went on from there to ObamaCare and then to Dodd-Frank. It has been the most anti-business and I consider anti-American administration in my lifetime. Things that are just so anathema to the principles of freedom, and everything he has come up with centralizes more power in Washington, creates more socialist-style, collectivist policies. This president is doing something that's so far out of the realm of anything Republicans ever did wrong, it's hard to even imagine.

You want to see what is an "anathema to the principles of freedom," Jim? There's the mirror.

Now, some in D.C. are spinning DeMint's move as a great coup, an enhancement of his power and influence. It didn't seem like it to me, and Walsh agrees.

She says,

So many words have been spent on this news. I hadn’t planned on weighing in, but after watching all the ways it’s being spun as some kind of victory for DeMint and the Tea Party, I had to say: Enough!

She also says something that many of us have been aggravated about for years in the way the mainstream media covers politics.

In the Bizarro World of Beltway media, up can be down and down up, especially when it comes to what’s good for Republicans and Democrats. Most political developments, even positive ones, are spun as particularly challenging for Democrats; disasters can wind up being depicted as opportunities or even glory when they befall Republicans.

The code for this among many Democrats is "Good news for John McCain!," referencing how, back in 2008, no matter what happened, the media spun it as good news for the Republican presidential candidate. (Unfortunately for him, he got some really bad news on election night. Heh heh.)

(Not all the media are spinning it as unmitigated good news. That "socialist-style, collectivist" publication Businessweek headlines its story "DeMint Exits Senate as Conservatie Brand Weakens." http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-12-07/demint-exits-senate-as-conse...)

I agree with Walsh though: DeMint is leaving a position of power and influence, where his words can be spun by the media as an important voice in the debate, to join the right-wing echo chamber where his words are branded as p.r. for a particular partisan viewpoint.

She points out that "DeMint isn’t leaving the Senate in glory; he’s leaving with his most fervent goals unfulfilled.

Those goals were to join McConnell in trying to make Obama a one-term president and to gain a Republican majority in the Senate, something that just a couple of years ago seemed virtually guaranteed to happen this year.

DeMint was part of the reason it didn't. His Senate Conservatives Fund backed candidates such as Missouri's Todd Akin. It was Akin's claim that women didn't get pregnant from rape because "the female body has ways to shut it down" that turned a virtually sure Republican pickup into a 15-plus-point landslide victory for incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, who has been considered the most endangered Democratic Senator. Great work, Jim!

Oh— and there's this great DeMint "victory," which you can join me in chortling over:

Republican Senate hopeful and Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel is getting a major fundraising assist from one of the country's most prominent conservatives - Sen. Jim DeMint. ... DeMint's political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, has already donated the legal maximum - $10,000 - to Mandel's campaign. But that's just the beginning. DeMint's PAC has made $71,000 in independent expenditures to boost Mandel's campaign. And the PAC has raised another $175,000 for Mandel from other donors.

The Senate Conservatives Fund has set a goal of raising at least $500,000 for Mandel, said Matt Hoskins, the Senate Conservatives Fund director. Hoskins added that he actually expects the PAC to raise twice that amount to help the Ohio Republican beat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, in next year's election.

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20111104/NEWS01/111050329/Ohio-Senate...

As you can tell by the reference to "next year's election," DeMint was one of the early believers in Mandel. He went all in on this truly putrid candidate.

But I loved Sherrod Brown's quote in the CIncinnati Inquirer article linked above:

I really haven't thought about it much. DeMint does what he does. That's his business.

Yup — it is. And business is bad! At the Heritage Foundation, DeMint can continue to push for crazy candidates like Akin and sleazy, unprincipled candidates like Mandel. And that is good news for Democrats!

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