Jim DeMint Quits Senate to Head up Heritage Foundation

As flagged earlier on the indispensible Reason 24/7, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), one of the most influential fiscal conservatives in the U.S. Senate, is exiting his final term two four years early to become president of the Heritage Foundation. From the Wall Street Journal write-up:

In an interview preceding the succession announcement, Sen. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. "This is an urgent time," the senator said, "because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections." Mr. DeMint, who was a market researcher before he entered politics, said he plans to take the Heritage Foundation's traditional research plus that of think tanks at the state level and "translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work." He said, "We want to figure out what works at the local and state level" and give those models national attention.

Mr. DeMint, an active conservative partisan often at odds with his party's leadership, says he will "protect the integrity of Heritage's research and not politicize the policy component. Heritage is not just another grassroots political group."

DeMint, a strong social con who said after the Tea Partytastic 2010 mid-terms that "you can't be a fiscal conservative unless you're also a social conservative," would seem a natural fit to a GOP-tethered, $80 million think tank whose current president celebrated those mid-terms by warning incoming Republican freshmen not to even think about cutting military spending. But as captured by this January Reason interview with Nick Gillespie and I, DeMint has been moving in a more libertarian-friendly direction. Excerpt:

reason: The defense budget is 20 percent of all government spending and has increased about 100 percent since 2000. How much of the defense budget can be cut without hurting American preparedness or the ability to protect American lives?

DeMint: I'm not sure what that number is. But I do know there's waste in Pentagon spending. We've identified waste not only in the Pentagon but all across the board....But we have to have a vision for what we want our military to do. And that's why in the last couple of weeks, I've said I want whoever our nominee is in the Republican Party to listen to some of the things Rep. Ron Paul [R-Texas] is saying. [...]

We do need to rethink the money we spend on military and defense. I think Ron Paul does make a good distinction: There's a difference between spending on military and spending for defense. 

The primary function of the federal government is to defend our country. We need to make sure that we have the technology, the intelligence, the equipment to defend America from a lot of new threats. And if that is not doable with bases all over the world, we need to rethink how spread out we actually are. We have to demand that our allies actually pay a greater proportion of their defense. We're still in Germany; we were there after World War II. We're in South Korea. We're in a lot of places. We may need to be in some of those places for deployment and protection. But I think it's fair to say let's rethink that and make sure we're spending money in the right places.

Reason on DeMint here. Watch the Reason.tv video of that interview below:

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Any idea who might get appointed to finish his term?

  • ||

    Your mom?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, I suppose she could if she lived in South Carolina. I'll have to ask her.

  • ||

    I asked her this morning in bed. She said she didn't have the free time.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, too bad. I understand there's a lot of gravy to be had in being related to a Senator.

  • ||

    She also said to tell you she couldn't make it for dinner tonight, she has an orgy to attend. Came out of the blue.

  • Ska||

    Just thinking about orgies can make her come? What a freaky (awesome) lady.

  • ||

    No, no. I came out of the blue.

  • PapayaSF||

    If it's turning blue you shouldn't hold it so tightly.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Maybe if you caused them more often you wouldn't be so surprised when it happened.

  • sticks||

    Lots of talk of Tim Scott. I would not be upset if Tom Davis got it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Of Franken and Davis? I thought he had passed away.

  • sticks||

    Different Tom Davis. State senator out of Beaufort.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was making a joke, but thanks, anyway, because I didn't know who he was.

  • sticks||

    There is nothing funny about al Franken.

  • Randian||

    Well, nothing intentionally funny, anyway.

  • RBS||

    Fuck Tim Scott in his Drug War loving ass.

  • sticks||

    I assume every pol here has a hard on for the war on drugs.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "DeMint has been moving in a more libertarian-friendly direction."

    Like in Zeno's paradox, he's always getting half-way there, but never seems to make it.

    "The primary function of the federal government is to defend our country."

    The primary function of the federal government is to defend our rights. Foreign enemies present just one of those threats. The primary threat to our rights, in my opinion, presently, is politicians who don't know that the primary function of the federal government is to defend our rights.

  • Cytotoxic||

    he's always getting half-way there, but never seems to make it.

    Which makes him a damn sight better than almost everyone else in the Senate.

    This is a terrible loss! DeMint was an HandR Padawan. He is imperfect and sorely needed in the Senate.

  • Ken Shultz||

    As a practical matter, we might not be able to get the socialists out of the federal government until we get the social conservatives out of the Republican party.

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    +1 DVD copy of Reefer Madness and a Negro jazz musician.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'd rather throw Neocons leave. The party, the country, the planet, whatever works best.

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    Heritage? The "cut spending, except defense spending" kids? Yup. Figures.

  • Mike M.||

    You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

  • ||

    Maybe we can luck out and SC will appoint another Lindsay Graham, Champion of Freedom™!

  • kinnath||

    I was really impressed with Graham during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. Then he became a Senator and turned absolutely nuts.

  • $park¥||

    It's possible that his nuts just started showing after the election. Wait, what?

  • kinnath||

    It was possible that he was always an utter lunatic and just managed to keep it hidden during all the press meetings during the impeachment proceedings.

    Either way, he has been serious disappointment.

  • carol||

    A single Jim Demint is worth more than a hundred Lindsay Grahams. Graham is a self-serving ass.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Leave Senator Graham's self-serving ass out of this!

  • JW||

    I was wondering when Feulner would retire. Needless to say, it's a good place to work at the top. Berry, berry good to you.

    Heritage was an interesting place to work, I'll say that much.

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    Heritage was an interesting place to work, I'll say that much.

    Were you told to control your libertarian impulses and repeat: "Defense spending is good"?

  • Rick Santorum||

    Defense spending with pointless overseas conflicts and the corrupt, inefficient, death-worshipping military-industrial complex is good.

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    For a concern troll, you're doing it all wrong, Sweater Vest.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Your jug-eared lord and savior is rattling that saber awfully loud in Syria's direction.

    Better tell him to give peace a chance.

  • wareagle||

    he's rattling but does anyone believe he would actually use it? I think this guy totally supports any Middle Eastern chaos that helps the Brotherhood or groups like it.

  • JW||

    Nah, we worked in the open and only occasionally would one of us disappear for a period of time that couldn't be accounted for. The odd scars at the base of the neck stop itching eventually.

  • Not a Libertarian||

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Are there presently any Black members in the 2012-2014 Senate?

  • wareagle||


  • UnionBuiltOhioRoads||

    Crap. He was a marvelous senator compared to the rest of the senate. Tim Scott is from my district, he's not bad.

    It would be great to see a guy like Jack Hunter run in his home state of SC come 2014.

    But I'm sure the SC fat ass establishment will find another Graham.

  • Not a Libertarian||

  • waaminn||

    Gotta love those bought and paid for politicians. Wow.



    Wasington Post's blog-take


    Jim DeMint will be at least as damaging outside the Senate as he was inside it

    They make it sound like he's godzilla. I missed the part where we passed laws executing gays and drug users and re-imposing Jim Crow. What precisely was the 'damage' threatened?


    denying him [Obama] bipartisan cooperation on everything, regardless of merit.

    See, the only reason anyone objects to Obama's policy proposals.... its they are just being irrational meanies!


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