South Carolina's Jim DeMint is quitting the Senate four years early, we learned Thursday morning, and he's going to run the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that just happened to come up with the idea for the "unjust law" the senator has been railing against for years: Obamacare. You can see why he might be tempted to forgive some past sins, as DeMint will earn about $1 million, according to The Daily Beast's David Frum — that's the biggest think tank president salary in Washington. But if you take a look into DeMint's past, well, this guy really hates what his new colleagues invented.
Among conservatives, reactions to DeMint's move have been mixed so far. "I got the call before the news went out," RedState's Erick Erickson begins his post on DeMint's new gig, before demonstrating why he should get more of these types of calls in the future. DeMint's exit from the Senate is not a disappointment, as The Washington Examiner's Byron York says. In fact, Erickson writes, "the upside on Jim DeMint’s departure from the Senate is mind boggling… A man who was going to retire in four years anyway, will now be leading the conservative movement from its base of operations for years to come."
Still, we can't help but note that the base of operations originated the health care mandate that Tea Partiers like DeMint find so intolerable. (Heritage was even at Mitt Romney's signing of Romneycare, which inspired Obamacare.) DeMint has campaigned against Obamacare for years, calling it unconstitutional before the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional, calling it unconstitutional after the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional, and pushing to repeal the law. In just one of one of many interviews DeMint has given about the problems with Obamacare, he agreed with CNS News' Terry Jeffrey earlier this year that Obamacare was modeled on Romneycare, and that the mandate was a bad idea not just because it's bad policy, but because it violates fundamental freedoms:
Jeffrey: Well you don't think that type of health care prescription and liberty is a violation of a natural right of liberty?
DeMint: I think it is.
Jeffrey: So no state should do it?
DeMint: I don't think a state should do it , but if a state wants to try it it's up to their people. I think it violates a constitutional principle that is much bigger than one state. To mandate ---because it's not just saying you got to have insurance, it's a matter of sqaying you've got to have this kind of insurance and this insurance has got to cover contraceptives and abortion and so they start telling us everything...
Jeffrey: So, Romneycare is an unjust law?
DeMint: People are going to give you different interpretations. For me, a mandate is an unjust law.
But just as DeMint forgave Romneycare to endorse Romney in 2007, and to semi-endorse him in 2012, DeMint forgave Heritage for the mandate. DeMint encouraged conservatives to keep fighting the mandate in a not-quite soaring speech, which Heritage kicked up a notch by scoring it with a heroic brass arrangement:
In his tenure at Heritage, DeMint will surely oversee many more brilliant proposals issued from the think tank. But it could take decades to figure out which ones DeMint will later find intolerable.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.