Can You Stand the Rain?

Given the current trajectory of things, I think it is fairly reasonable to predict Republicans will seize control of the Senate on November 2. The RealClearPolitics poll aggregate projects +8 GOP pickups. In addition, I think Linda McMahon will probably beat lethargic fabulist Dick Blumenthal in Connecticut. Rather than saving Harry Reid, Sharron Angle’s weakness will make her the Jim Webb of the 2010 class, who narrowly skated past the terribly flawed Macaque Man. For the time being anyway, Washington state is one to watch.

Consequently, the radicalism of South Carolina senator Jim DeMint is big news. We should ponder what it means for the 112th Congress that convenes in January. In short, I believe Sen. DeMint is nicely positioned to be the shadow majority leader and this does not bode well for the Democratic administration on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Before peeling back DeMint’s recent public statements in BusinessWeek and POLITICO, we should take a moment to look back at “DeMint Condition,” a profile of Sen. DeMint from this past January.

The New Republic:

... DeMint fell into a funk. “There was a period of time after that where he was pretty depressed and eating lunch a lot by himself and didn’t really have any friends in the Capitol,” recalls the former staffer. But soon, DeMint and his people began casting about for like-minded conservatives he could bond with. Traveling around the country communing with the grassroots and hawking his book Saving Freedom, DeMint once more found comfort, acceptance--and opportunity. “It really opened up some doors for him and sort of showed him this was something to pursue and push,” says former DeMint speechwriter Mike Connolly. Realizing he “was never going to be part of the club,” recalls Connolly, the senator had to make a choice. “He looks at himself and looks at the party and asks, ‘What can I do? Am I just here to be the right flank and try to influence a few little amendments here and there, or am I really going to try and change’” the conference? Thus was cemented DeMint’s role: perpetual burr in the butt of his party’s leadership.

It is exceedingly hard not to admire the brazen balls and remarkable political judgment on full display here. It frankly doesn’t matter if you agree with Mr. DeMint’s philosophy or bask in the ascendance of the Tea Party movement (I do not). All of this was fairly predictable. My only wish is that Mr. DeMint had lent some of his fortitude and sense of urgency to progressive avatars like Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. I wonder if Mr. Feingold would have found himself in as much trouble as he presently is had he accumulated more anti-Obama street cred.

Feingold’s lone vote against the Patriot Act makes him morally superior to every one of his Senate colleagues, as far as the current writer is concerned. To the average voter, however, his principled stand in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 probably sounds like some quaint war tale. And while he certainly cast the right votes on the TARP and Dodd-Frank monstrosities, he failed to passionately indict the rotten (bipartisan) system that produced these things. It therefore bears the appearance of political posturing: Casting troublesome but safely inconsequential votes. Jim DeMint’s lonely PB&J lunches in the Senate cafeteria are convincingly portrayed by Michelle Cottle. When Russ does it, it looks a tad bit gimmicky.

DeMint has journeyed a long way from pariah status on the periphery of the Republican caucus.

BusinessWeek reports:

While Sarah Palin gets most of the attention for helping numerous unlikely candidates win Republican primaries, DeMint, 59, is an even bigger force. The first-term senator and former marketing executive has vaulted from backbencher to conservative kingmaker. He's a recruiter, fundraiser, and agenda-setter, racking up electoral victories for Tea Party underdogs in Senate races across the country.

In the process, he's rapidly building a power base in the Senate that will exert huge influence on the national agenda next year. He's also angering some of his Republican colleagues, including Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush's political strategist. They argue that O'Donnell and other "DeMint disciples," as former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott calls them, are so conservative and inexperienced that they aren't likely to win in the general election. If that happens, they say, he will deny the GOP the 10 seats it needs to take control of the Senate. "We've probably just written off Delaware, and we're shocked and disappointed about it," says Ron Bonjean, a former top Republican Hill aide.

DeMint doesn't care. "I've been told by businesses that if we would stop the tax increases the best thing that could happen for business after that is complete gridlock. At least gridlock is predictable," he tells Bloomberg Businessweek, taking a quick break between TV appearances. His goal, he says, is to stop programs that violate his anti-Big Government ideology. "What happens in the Senate is the Republicans sink to the lowest common denominator," he says. "People want an alternative to some kind of watered-down Republican philosophy."

A number of political experts have warned that a Republican takeover of either one or both houses of Congress could redound positively for President Obama. Their suggestion obviously draws upon the 1995-6 parallel. To hear conservatives recount the story, it goes something like this: After reading the handwriting on the wall (or after having Dick Morris park him in front of the wall), the neutered Democratic president Bill Clinton, a soulless practitioner of politics, signed all manner of legislation passed by Newt Gingrich’s Congress and wisely claimed credit for himself to the benefit of his 1996 re-election bid.

But of course President Clinton didn’t have a jobless recovery economic depression, 17% real unemployment, a failed war in a primitive and faraway place, and such, to answer for. Moreover, Barack Obama prevailed where Bill Clinton miserably failed: He signed what passes for universal health care these days. Unfortunately the traditional rubric doesn’t apply to this president. Rather than being grateful for the legislative bounty the Democrats have achieved for them, widespread voter dissatisfaction persists. Rest assured the incoming horde of reactionaries won’t easily forget House speaker Nancy Pelosi gallantly marching through the crowd of Tea Party people with that humongous Medicare gavel.

When Jim DeMint made his famous pronouncement of ObamaCare as Barack Obama’s “Waterloo,” he unwittingly betrayed the true sentiment of the conservative movement; an entirely different beast than Mitch McConnell’s Beltway Republicanism. Similarly, DeMint’s professed preference for gridlock is a certain harbinger of what awaits us in 2011.

This may not be entirely bad. For progressives fully awakened to the hopelessness of this administration, this may be preferable at this point. In order for the Catfood business—convened by the president and chaired by former senator Al Simpson and Clinton White House alum Erskine Bowles—to succeed, they have to attract a great deal of Republican votes. In addition to the recent redecoration, the National Park Service would have to add another story to house Barack Obama’s ego should his Catfood Commission succeed in reducing the deficit by, among other things, “reforming” Social Security. As far as he’s concerned, it certainly wouldn’t hurt what may be an otherwise uphill re-election effort.

Republicans will have none of it. To be sure, the leadership won’t appear on Fox News Sunday and candidly admit the conniving rationale behind their opposition. Conservative politicians, pundits, and operatives have already done their darnedest to fashion themselves as protectors of Medicare. An imagination as foggy and paranoiac as mine shouldn’t be necessary to envisage a similar Road to Damascus conversion vis-à-vis Social Security—if only for nakedly cynical purposes.

POLITICO has more:

Republican leaders convened a special meeting last week to discuss whether to revoke Murkowksi’s position as ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. GOP leaders entered the meeting, believing the caucus would vote to remove her from her position. But a number of Republicans, like Hutchison, said it made little sense to do so, given that she was likely to lose her reelection bid anyway and that there was sparse committee action in the docket.

DeMint and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter made a case for Murkowski to lose her spot on the committee, but most of their colleagues disagreed. Some later said Murkowski probably gained support because it was DeMint who was leading the charge against her.

Emerging from the meeting, DeMint repeatedly declined to tell reporters about what transpired at the meeting other than to say that the party was “united” behind Miller. A day later, he sent out the sharply worded fundraising letter, attacking his colleagues for aiding Murkowski’s bid.

DeMint said in the interview he was “distressed” by the conference’s position, and he said Miller “obviously was shaken” by the decision to keep Murkowski on the panel’s leadership, which Murkowski has since touted in her campaign.

“I know from experience that trying to work within the system for 12 years has not yielded results —and our country is worse off [than] where it was when I got here,” DeMint said Tuesday. “The party is not going to mind what I do as long as I’m not effective.”

Throughout the article POLITICO quotes tsk-tsking establishmentarians: Orrin Hatch of Utah; Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, who decried DeMint’s breach of the sanctity of closed conference deliberation; Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the loser who was pounded into the Texas dirt by Gov. Rick Perry in the gubernatorial primary last spring; South Dakota’s Marlboro Man, John Thune, who has luckily satisfied a base level of experience (six years or thereabout in the Senate) in time to mount a presidential run in a fortuitous year; and some person named Kit Bond of Missouri who won’t be around for the next Congress.

Allied with Jim DeMint was Louisiana’s David Vitter, who is emblematic of an even more strategic conservative base. This solid conservative—whose wife mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton for tolerating Bubba’s embarrassing affinity for trashy, indiscreet women—admitted to knocking down prostitutes and nevertheless is cruising to re-election as we speak. He and DeMint are the future of the Republican Party.

For them the bloodbath of November is only a beginning. Their ultimate aim is to install Sarah Palin—or something like her—in the White House. Our task as progressives is to recruit a real Democrat, send this president back to Hyde Park, and suit up for the epic showdown that awaits us in 2012.

Tags: Barack Obama, progressives, 2010 midterms, Russ Feingold, Tea Party Movement, jim demint (all tags)

Comments

10 Comments

A GOP House wont solve Obama's problems

Obama has wanted a GOP House since he first got elected so he could be like Reagan and work with the other party.

Its not going to happen unless Obama agrees to cut Social Security and Medicare and repeal healthcare reform.

We need a primary challenge to Obama in 2012.  Howard Dean would be an excellent choice.

We need to dump Obama.

by Kent 2010-09-30 03:28AM | 0 recs
RE: A GOP House wont solve Obama's problems

You've got it, mang.

by Jack Landsman 2010-09-30 07:02AM | 0 recs
He who lives by the crystal ball

must eventually learn to subsist on a diet of broken glass.

by Trey Rentz 2010-09-30 12:52PM | 0 recs
RE: He who lives by the crystal ball

Gimme some Worcester sauce and I'll be fine.

by Jack Landsman 2010-09-30 02:15PM | 0 recs
I don't mean to attack every one of your posts, but

once again, you've made another critically flawed argument that even if valid still would present a valid case for dropping Obama in '12. 

The current 'trajectory of things' certainly does not indicate that Republicans will take the Senate. On the contrary, the small chance of that happening continues to decline. O'Donnell is tanking, despite what you may wish. The generic ballot continues to narrow. California is being taken off the map. Kentucky is narrowing. I can't point to a single race where the current trajectory is as you describe it.

Then again, perhaps I can understand how you see it that way, considering how you analyze some races. I can't help but laugh out loud at the assertion that Sharon Angle is becoming the Jim Webb of '10. Sure, Angle very well might squeak out a victory. But besides the possibly narrow victory (which I can assure you, has happened before, throughout all of history), there's absolutely nothing similar about the races. Harry Reid is flawed? What candidate isn't? Somehow Harry Reid's flaws are similar to the 'maccaca' incident? Seriously? And Sharon Angle is like Jim Webb? In what world? I don't recall Jim Webb being some crazy liberal with radical beliefs who beat a dumb mainstream Dem in a surprise upset primary.

Moving on, you once again glorify a right-winger as if he's accomplished something monumental. A crazy Republican rallying his crazy base is not some brilliant strategic maneuver- its just what people like Demint try to do. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't (See Alan Grayson). 

And then, once again, you seem to fault Obama for what is happening on the right. The teabaggers are wining the battle of the GOP- I get that. But that alone is not sufficient evidence that they are- by extension- beating Democrats.

The tea party 'revolution' has yet to do anything more than awaken people who already had this view. They arn't changing anyone's mind. When Obama, who will be renominated in 2012, starts campaigning against whatever teabagger the GOP decides to nominate, he will once again display his skill and have little trouble dispatching the crazy.

If the tea party wants to win national elections, they will have to become rational, which is, of course, impossible for a group whose entire basis is those crazy ideas that most Americans do not buy into.

 

by BlueGAinDC 2010-09-30 01:45PM | 0 recs
RE: I don't mean to attack every one of your posts, but

The current 'trajectory of things' certainly does not indicate that Republicans will take the Senate. On the contrary, the small chance of that happening continues to decline. O'Donnell is tanking, despite what you may wish. The generic ballot continues to narrow. California is being taken off the map. Kentucky is narrowing. I can't point to a single race where the current trajectory is as you describe it.

Orly? California is the only one I would cautiously bet will stay with the Democrats. Otherwise the trajectory isn’t with us. The Republicans have been gaining—and gaining fast—in West Virginia and Connecticut. Patty Murray’s small lead is current trending downward. In Colorado, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, the Republicans are expanding their leads. Marco Rubio is running away at this point. Harry Reid is in a statistical dead heat with Sharron Angle. Even if she upsets Joe Miller, Princess Lisa Murkowski will still caucus with Republicans, so that's that.

Then again, perhaps I can understand how you see it that way, considering how you analyze some races. I can't help but laugh out loud at the assertion that Sharon Angle is becoming the Jim Webb of '10. Sure, Angle very well might squeak out a victory. But besides the possibly narrow victory (which I can assure you, has happened before, throughout all of history), there's absolutely nothing similar about the races. Harry Reid is flawed? What candidate isn't? Somehow Harry Reid's flaws are similar to the 'maccaca' incident? Seriously? And Sharon Angle is like Jim Webb? In what world? I don't recall Jim Webb being some crazy liberal with radical beliefs who beat a dumb mainstream Dem in a surprise upset primary.

Sharron, not Sharon. Jim Webb is one of my very favorite Democratic senators, so obviously I wouldn’t compare Sharron Angle to Sen. Webb in terms of character. I meant—and I clearly noted—that they’re similar in terms of their narrow paths to victory. Webb and Angle are two candidates who attracted the enthusiastic backing of their respective bases in the primaries and won. Despite this enthusiasm, Jim Webb barely squeaked by George Allen in an overwhelmingly Democratic year. Harry Reid may not be an outright racist like Allen, but he’s very flawed. He’s the most powerful Democratic politician in the state and he’s in a statistical dead heat with Ms. Angle. This is because Harry Reid is hated in his home state, where unemployment is the highest in the country. “Terribly flawed,” you might say of Sen. Reid, like former senator Allen.  

Moving on, you once again glorify a right-winger as if he's accomplished something monumental. A crazy Republican rallying his crazy base is not some brilliant strategic maneuver- its just what people like Demint try to do. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't (See Alan Grayson). 

And then, once again, you seem to fault Obama for what is happening on the right. The teabaggers are wining the battle of the GOP- I get that. But that alone is not sufficient evidence that they are- by extension- beating Democrats.

Jim DeMint holds the polite customs of the Senate club in contempt and has been a consistent thorn in the side of his party’s reticent leadership. Take out the name DeMint and you have a pretty solid description of a desirable leader. Or at least that’s what people say. I’m capable of giving the occasional nod to the opposition on grounds of pure political gamesmanship. You seem uncomfortable with it. Quite frankly, I don’t care.

The tea party 'revolution' has yet to do anything more than awaken people who already had this view. They arn't changing anyone's mind. When Obama, who will be renominated in 2012, starts campaigning against whatever teabagger the GOP decides to nominate, he will once again display his skill and have little trouble dispatching the crazy.

If the tea party wants to win national elections, they will have to become rational, which is, of course, impossible for a group whose entire basis is those crazy ideas that most Americans do not buy into.

Tea Partiers are the opposition—plain and simple. Assuming he’s still struggling with a jobless recovery economic depression, 17% real unemployment, and a failed war in Afghanistan, President Obama’s only recourse will be to barrage voters with ridiculously negative ads. Will it work? We shall see.

by Jack Landsman 2010-09-30 02:13PM | 0 recs
live in the Congressional district in SC where Demint first was elected

it is ironic that DeMint first got into politics to support Bob Inglis, and now Inglis is more moderate and inclined towards sane politics, whereas his protege is drunk with the intoxication of politics, strange for a man who waxs so poetic against government.

my wife once encountered DeMint doing shopper surveys in a shopping mall....so yes, he has an adverstising background, I suppose.

it is difficult to witness this small man exerting any kind of influence on the US system of government. Chauncey Gardner is the only thing I can come up with....but its true, there is no there there....and this guy is a "leader"?

I may have to dig up my back yard for a survival module, dear me, the end of times may have, in fact, arrived

by blackflag 2010-09-30 01:58PM | 0 recs
RE: live in the Congressional district in SC where Demint first was elected

lol, that was a great visual there at the shopping mall.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-10-01 03:20AM | 0 recs
John Boehner sez "Hey, we don't really have any solutions" Sept 30 2010

some Facebook replies:

 

Gary M Wise John "Coppertone" Boehner..what a complete useless idiot. 12 minutes ago · UnlikeLike · 16 peopleLoading... ·
  • Faye Bircheat So, last week they had a "Pledge to America" and THIS week - they have no ideas. Yep, nothing's changed. 11 minutes ago · UnlikeLike · 8 peopleLoading... ·
  • Donna Stumpo Why NOT, John? Cos' maybe, you don't HAVE ANY SOLUTIONS? 11 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Jordan Garcia All these republicunts are fools. 11 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 2 peopleLoading... ·
  • Cathy Olten he's a f***in' bonehead. 10 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Bill Wodenhelm Republican solution: Blame the scapegoat. 10 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 5 people5 people like this. ·
  • Donna Buehler They can't begin to talk about potential solutions yet because they don't have any. All they know is what they did and it didn't work. I hope some of the GOP followers somewhere will wake up and see what's really going on. I know none of the ones I know will. 9 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 3 people4 people like this. ·
  • Terry Motley The only potential solution I have for republicans is to hold them down in a watery solution until the last bubble floats out of they greedy, lying mouths. These racists can't handle a light, black President but are OK with John "Agent Orange" Boehner? Typical, inbred, white sheeted scum! 8 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 5 people5 people like this. ·
  • Alec Frazier Did you know that his last name would usually be pronounced "Boner?" The correct spelling for the pronunciation he made up is "Beahner." 8 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 5 peopleLoading... ·
  • Patricia Perlo can't begin talking about solutions? Yeah that's cause the dude has no solutions... he's waiting for his vacuum tube of a brain to be filled with like whatever... 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Iris Denise Blackmond Honesty from a tea parting rethug, how refreshing! They can make a pledge but not have one solution included. Sheer genius! 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·
  • Mona Johnson Does this dumbass think we are not ALREADY have adult conversation about the size of the problem? They don't have any new solutions, and know if they start saying they are going to do the same things that have been tried before, and didn't work, they will surely lose, but they shouldn't be so arrogant as to think they will win anyway. 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Elaine Spencer What is really scary is that there are so many "low information" voters who buy the Republican Tea Party's garbage.
    "Low information" voters is new media speak for "totally ignorant" voters. 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 4 peopleLoading... ·
  • Brandon Carlson I am completely amazed that the US Citizenry is so gullible and has such a short term memory. Even my 13 year old knows not to put the people who made the mess in charge of cleaning it up! 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 4 peopleLoading... ·
  • Jennifer Lee Wow - the calling for death came early in this thread. Congrats, Terry. 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Jan Civil It's a spelled-out umlaut, and it is closer to boner than bayner. 7 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Susan Baird Yep, just more same old same old, and trying to snooker voters into believing they'll get different results. 6 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 2 peopleLoading... ·
  • Frederick Kann ‎"Beaner"...LOL 6 minutes ago · LikeUnlike ·
  • Oj Romero MY FELLOW DEMOCRATS MAKE SURE TO VOTE THIS NOVEMBER AND ENCOURAGE YOUR FELLOW DEMS TO VOTE TO KEEP THE MAJORITY IN CONTROL OF CONGRESS...DO WE REALLY WANT TEA PARTY CANDIDATES IN CONGRESS? GO BACK TO THE FAILED POLICIES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS? NO!!!!! VOTE DEMOCRAT! 6 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 6 peopleLoading... ·
  • Mojeoux ThayerSorry to all my friends who might be leaning to the right wing. The facts are facts. You can't make 2 and 2 ad up to 3. The Right Wing of the United States has gone racist, fascist, and outright TREASONIST.
    My ancestors fought in the Amer...
  • by hddun2008 2010-09-30 06:39PM | 0 recs
    Yes Jerome, my wife intially liked the guy

    he was being an advertising person doing research....interviews in the mall.....but now she seeths at the very mention of DeMint's name. I keep telling her she is wasting her time calling his office and complaining about his apparent goal of being a national force, meanwhile the state he supposedly represents stagnates, even more than the national norm. There are many of us in this area that despise the man, but we are outnumbered, and outgunned too for that matter.

    Given my yellow dog Democrat designation earned by legal and illegal methods, I am just suffering mightily here a few scant miles from Bob Jones University. I comfort myself with the knowledge there is a bookstore on a corner shopping strip center across the street from BJU, and it has a back room for purchasing porn dvd's.

    by blackflag 2010-10-01 05:22PM | 0 recs

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