Just Another Grifter

Charles Pierce puts Jim DeMint's exit from the Senate in perspective

Nobody better personifies the casual cruelty, the reckless disregard for the general welfare, the heedless contempt for the idea of a general political commonwealth, and the deep fealty to the rising power of oligarchy in this country than does DeMint, who first rode into the Senate by arguing, among other things, that gay people should not teach in the public schools. And no institution embodies those same qualities, which fairly define modern movement conservatism, than does The Heritage Foundation, which is little more than a talking-points mill at which the primary intellectual debates seem to center on who will write this week's crapola of the op-ed page of The Washington Post, and who will be appearing with Piers Morgan that night. Heritage's claim that it is a font of serious policy ideas dies with the fact that it is now going to be run by the biggest loon in the pond. This is a match made on a plane somewhat lower than heaven.

And DeMint will practice this "casual cruelty" and "reckless disregard for the general welfare" while earning far more money than he did as a Senator from South Carolina.

The outgoing president of the Heritage Foundation enjoyed a salary of over $1 million while Jim DeMint will likely fetch a higher price. But as far as he's concerned, this is all for the cause, not for the money.

Sen. Jim DeMint, who has announced he will leave the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, told Rush Limbaugh on Thursday he feels he can do "more good for the conservative movement outside the Senate" than in it.

The conservative movement can do more good for Jim DeMint if he's outside the Senate, that's for sure.

  • bphoon

    The good part of this is that DeMint (DeMented?) will be out of the Senate. My sense is that, to the extent that the Heritage Foundation is taken seriously anymore by anyone outside the paracosm, its influence on the general political environment will diminish as his influence within its walls increases.

    It’s a loony bin already and it’s fixin’ to get loonier.

    • muselet

      Don’t look for Heritage to lose its influence any time soon.

      Our glorious news media—especially the bookers for the Sunday yak shows—will continue to take the Heritage Foundation seriously. After all, it’s a “right-of-center” think tank, so inviting someone from Heritage neatly balances the “left-of-center” views of someone from the Brookings Institution.


      • bphoon

        Permit me to clarify my statement. Of course, the Sunday yak shows will continue booking mouthpieces from Heritage as well as the rest of the right wing “think” tanks. My point, though, is the only people who actually take those talking heads (I’m referring to all the talking heads who appear on the Sunday shows) seriously live inside the Beltway.

        DeMint is going to drag Heritage further to the right, if such a thing is possible, and they will become even more shrill on policies that the voting public resoundingly rejected not quite a month ago. I’m sure Heritage will continue to wield influence within the right wing paracosm but the election results and polling since show a clear preference for more progressive policy prescriptions, especially on the economy, than they’re equipped to embrace. Their influence outside the paracosm, minimal already, will continue to wane the longer DeMint is at the helm.

        • muselet

          You’re right, the average citizen couldn’t identify the Heritage Foundation (or the American Enterprise Institute or the Brookings Institution or the Center for American Progress) if he or she had to. The average citizen does, however, know about Meet the Press and Face the Nation and maybe even This Week.

          It will be interesting to see how often Heritage Foundation mouthpieces get on those shows after Jim DeMint adds his special je ne sais quoi to the organization (my money says they show up at least as often as they do now). But even if they get shut out entirely—we should be so lucky!—Heritage’s ideas will still influence Republicans and conservaDems, both at the federal and state levels. That’s what I was referring to earlier.

          The average person couldn’t care less about think tanks.