Thursday, December 10, 2009

Craziest Republican of the Day: Jim DeMint

The right-wing senator from South Carolina isn't happy with the direction of the GOP:

The problem in the Republican Party is that the leadership has gone to the left. I need some new Republicans.

Really? To the left? Well, perhaps so, relatively speaking. After all, one can be to the left of an extremist like DeMint and still be extremely conservative.

DeMint's comments come as party leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas), and RNC chairman Michael Steele have come under fire from several conservative bloggers and conservative grassroots activists.

They argue that they have not done enough to thwart the Democratic legislative agenda and to back conservative candidates running in primary elections.

Those on the right point to some establishment Republicans' initial support for state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R-N.Y.) instead of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman the New York special House election.

Conservatives have also rallied around former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) instead of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), the NRSC's choice in the state's GOP Senate primary.

True, there is something of a civil war going on in the Republican Party, along with a push for purity on the right, and so it's understandable, perhaps, that DeMint is complaining that the party leadership isn't rightist enough for his liking.

Indeed, while DeMint is certainly crazy, say, to think that what the GOP needs is to be even more extreme than it is now -- that is, crazy in the sense that what he wants wouldn't be good for Republicans (if good for those of us on the other side) -- but, given the current state of the GOP, he may actually be more genuinely Republican, more authentic, than those Republicans to his left, however conservative those others may be.

I mean, come on, McConnell and Cornyn? Hardly a couple of lefties. They may be slightly to DeMint's left, sure, but what concerns such Republicans, those DeMint wishes to replace with his own kind, is not just ideological purity but electoral success, and that means a bigger tent than the one DeMint would have the GOP be. I don't want to give McConnell et al. much in the way of credit -- they hardly bear much resemblance to the moderates who once ruled the party -- but I do recognize that some in the GOP leadership are working to build up the party, not reduce it to a narrow sliver on the far right.

Again, though, DeMint seems to be in tune with the Republican Zeitgeist, which is all about rigid right-wing extremism. And so, while crazy, he's about as dedicated a partisan as they come.

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