Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is stepping down from his Senate seat to run the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing…uh…”think” tank.
The move caught many off guard. DeMint has become a Tea Party darling, one of the leaders of the right-wing fringe in America. During his time in office, he’s built up quite the history of advocacy for pretty much every bad idea to come out of the Republican Party over the last decade. Here’s a quick look at the top five moments of ridiculousness from the soon-to-be-former senator.
5. Jim DeMint Quits the Senate
The fifth–most-Jim DeMint moment is the most recent one. DeMint has established himself as a leader of the right wing in the Senate, and frighteningly, in the nation. Why would he give that up to run the Heritage Foundation, a soi-disant think tank that has a well-earned reputation for absolute hackery?
Yes, DeMint’s seat will probably be pretty safe for the GOP. Nobody seriously expects the Democrats to take it, although that could change if disgraced former governor Mark Sanford returns from the Appalachian Trail to make a run. And the Heritage post does allow DeMint to take even less-nuanced, more-ridiculous positions, like advocating that Republicans oust House Speaker John Boehner.
Still, the difference between the power of a U.S. Senator is significantly greater than that of the head of a joke of an advocacy group. The decision only makes sense from a financial standpoint; DeMint will certainly earn more throwing brickbats than receiving them. And if the Republican Party stands for anything, it’s maximizing one’s own bottom line, the good of the country be damned.
4. Jim DeMint Tries To Bar Gay and/or Unmarried Teachers from Teaching
What is the biggest threat to our nation’s education system? If you believe Beltway received wisdom, it’s teacher’s unions. If you’re a bit more honest, it’s a combination of intractable poverty and a lack of adequate programs to alleviate it. If you’re Jim DeMint, it’s gay and/or unmarried, sexually-active women.
In 2010, speaking at a rally at a church in Spartanburg, S.C., DeMint said that open homosexuals should not be teaching, nor should women who were unmarried, yet sleeping with their boyfriends. He had taken that position before, in 2004, during his first run for the Senate, but backed down after a firestorm of criticism. In 2010, he basically said that he was wrong to have apologized in the fist place.
He said that back in 2004, “no one came to my defense, but everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”
This makes sense, because nothing says freedom of religion like barring people from teaching for violating moral codes held by some, but not all, religions.
Not to worry, though. DeMint believes that it should be up to local school boards to bar gay and/or slutty teachers from the classroom. It isn’t discrimination if it’s only confined to some jobs, right?
3. Jim DeMint Tries to Outlaw Talking About Abortion on the Internet
Imagine you’re pregnant. You don’t want to be a parent, so you decide that you’ll get an abortion. You’re busy, so you dash off an email to the local Planned Parenthood Abortionplex to find out what you need to bring with to the appointment, how many extra appointments your state requires you to have, and whether you’ll have to endure a transvaginal ultrasound. (Spoiler alert: if you live in Texas, you probably will.)
Congratulations! In Jim DeMint’s America, you just committed a crime.
In 2011, DeMint authored an amendment that would have barred women from discussing abortion with their doctor via the internet or videoconferencing, even if that was the best way for them to receive care, even if their health was at risk. DeMint tried to attach the amendment to a bill related to agriculture, housing and transportation, because that made sense, I guess.
Needless to say, the amendment didn’t go anywhere, primarily because Democrats controlled the Senate; given that the House was busy passing bills codifying just how violent a rape had to be to count, had Republicans controlled the Senate it well could have passed.
Remember, folks, DeMint is all about freedom. Unless you’re a woman. Or poor. Or disabled. Or he just doesn’t like you. But if you’re a rich white guy — freedom!
2. Jim DeMint Loses the Battle of Waterloo and Helps Pass Obamacare
Remember 2009? It seems like a long time ago. Back then, the Tea Party was in its infancy, and looking for something to rally around. They found it in Obamacare, the most awfulest destruction of liberty since Hitler. DeMint took the lead in fighting against the legislation that, as we all know, had forced the people of Massachusetts into hiding from Gov. Romney’s jack-booted, medicine-dispensing thugs.
DeMint wasn’t just looking to stop a health care plan that might help poor people survive illness. He was also looking to stop Barack Obama, who was a totally illegitimate president because he was a Democrat, and also because he was…well, let’s just say he looked different from most other presidents.
Anyhow, DeMint declared in the summer of 2009 that Republicans should delay action on the Affordable Care Act (they did), and that Tea Party activists would act like jerks during the August recess (they did), and this would cause Obamacare to fail, thus destroying the presidency of Barack Obama (oops).
“Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people,” DeMint said. “This health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America. If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
Of course, we all know what happened next. Jim DeMint made it possible for Obamacare to pass, thus avoiding the breakage of Obama.
How did he do that, you ask? By pushing a primary challenge by Pat Toomey against Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Specter was a moderate Republican, and DeMint was putting considerable muscle behind Toomey. Specter, realizing that he couldn’t win a GOP primary, switched sides to the Democrats. He cast the 60th vote to break a filibuster of the Affordable Care Act, allowing the bill to pass the Senate, and ultimately, to be passed into law. Had DeMint not been so eager to force Specter out, it’s entirely possible that Specter would have remained a Republican, remained a solid vote against ending the filibuster, prevented Democrats from passing the Affordable Care Act, and ultimately wounded Obama politically. Instead, thanks to Jim DeMint, Obamacare is now the law of the land. Sure, we’re no longer free, and you can thank DeMint for that.
1. Jim DeMint Helps Democrats Hold Onto the Senate
Say what you will about Pat Toomey, but he did eventually win the Senate race. Not all of DeMint’s choices did so well, however.
In 2010, DeMint backed Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Joe Miller in key Senate races. All three candidates became national jokes. Angle somehow lost to Harry Reid, who was slightly less popular than cholera. Republicans held on to Alaska’s senate seat, but only because Lisa Murkowski successfully won re-election as a write-in candidate — and promptly came back to the senate more willing to work with Democrats. Christine O’Donnell, meanwhile, is not a witch, and is not a senator.
2012 wasn’t much better, mind you. Among DeMint’s picks to click were Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin, Richard “God Meant You To Be Raped” Mourdock, and George “Macaca” Allen.
If you’re keeping score, at least four seats in the Senate are in Democratic hands because Jim DeMint backed candidates who managed to blow completely unloseable races. It’s not fair to say that DeMint literally cost Democrats control of the Senate — assuming all other seats broke the same way, they’d still have a 51-49 majority. Still, it’s easy to imagine a GOP able to push a bit harder in North Dakota, knowing that they didn’t have to spend a dime to get Dick Lugar re-elected. Easy to imagine that with Mike Castle cruising to victory in 2010, Republicans could redeploy their assets to pick up just one more seat.
When he quit Thursday, DeMint said, “I know I am leaving the Senate better than I found it.” Thanks to DeMint’s tireless work on behalf of Republican candidates, Democrats can absolutely agree.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore