“Sen. Jim DeMint, patron saint of the tea party and a would-be Republican kingmaker, announced suddenly Thursday he would resign his South Carolina seat to head Washington’s conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, a shift that reverberated through a soul-searching GOP,” the AP writes, adding, “Prizing ideology over electability, DeMint sometimes infuriated fellow Republicans, picking sides in GOP primaries with decidedly mixed results. He had no patience for centrist Republicans, pushing the party to the right while bankrolling candidates with millions from his PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund. In 2010, candidates he ardently supported cost the GOP eminently winnable seats.” WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR $1 MILLION A YEAR? By the numbers: $174,000 – pay for a United States senator; $1 million – what the outgoing head of Heritage made last year. IN THE LONG RUN As a prominent conservative said, DeMint could very well “become the CEO of the conservative movement” at Heritage. In fact, DeMint told Rush Limbaugh that he could have a greater impact on politics from outside the Senate than inside of it. Serving in the House or Senate is no longer — in a world of social media, 24 hour cable news heavily focused on politics and online grassroots organizing — the sine qua non for a conservative wanting to push his (or her) ideas on a national level. That way of thinking marks a sea change from even a decade ago when the idea of DeMint abandoning his relatively prime perch in the Senate — he had built a sort of conservative hub within the GOP conference — to head a think tank (even one that pays as well as Heritage) would have seemed unthinkable.
10 Dec 2012