Tea Party ideologue Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced his resignation last week to take the reins at the conservative Heritage Foundation from longtime head Edwin Feulner. Feulner’s poking into seven-figure compensation easily means the quitting junior senator won’t be slumming off a measly $175,000 government salary next month.
The notorious South Carolina filibustering obstructionist should have Heritage Foundation staffers ordering a pallet load of Rolaids. Being Capitol Hill, the staid academics are even now running larger bar tabs to brace themselves for the new extremist honcho who seems to prefer the company of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Unlike too many Tea Party functions, the academic credentials of long time staff meant they did know how to spell.
In some ways, DeMint’s resignation should be no surprise. Even back in the old Soviet Union, the resident old hard-line ideologue usually wasn’t given a portfolio where they could mess anything important up.
DeMint certainly had a virtually nonexistent legislative record to be much more that a noisy junior senator. Doing his level best to bring Senate productivity to a molasses-like pace isn’t much to brag about. He was usually too busy making enemies with gaffes about how unmarried women teachers ought to be chaste.
If one is trying to make a name for himself as party kingmaker, I wouldn’t advise taking DeMint as a poker junket partner to Las Vegas, or to pick one’s ponies at Aqueduct. DeMint backed such notable campaign flops as Nevada’s Sharron Angle, and Delaware’s Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell. Remember Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape Gyno” Akin (R-Mo.) and Richard “God’s Will Gestation” Mourdock? DeMint backed losers. He frankly was too extreme for even conservatives to keep as a fringe yentl. Ask Mitt & Ann Romney how the modern G.O.P. reveres second place finishers.
Mitt who? Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan, as the old adage goes. DeMint’s extremism often alienated pragmatists in his own Republican party.
After Election Day last month, Republicans failed to retake the Senate, and a much fatter pay packet likely led DeMint to make the hike north a couple of blocks to the conservative think tank, which seemed to lack the South Carolina junior senator’s tea bag bombast. The Palmetto State is far from a bastion of liberalism, and despite Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert’s humorous offer, Gov. Nikki “Low Country Sarah Palin” Haley (R) is almost to keep the seat in the Rightist camp. Freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R) is favored due to his closeness to Haley, and to give Republicans the illusion of diversity.
DeMint’s sudden quitting two years into his second term does sound so Palinesque. Any caribou at Washington’s National Zoo can rest easier with DeMint not sharing Sarah’s cable telegenic looks.