‘Essentially, DeMint is declaring a mistrial’

The arrow is intended to help jar Jim DeMint's memory.
The arrow is intended to help jar Jim DeMint's memory.
Associated Press

Remember the 2012 elections? The one in which Republicans ran on a platform of repealing the Affordable Care Act, and then lost?

If you’re Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, helping lead the anti-healthcare crusade, the apparent answer is no.

DeMint thinks the election results don’t accurately reflect national sentiment and therefore can’t be used to argue against his desire to move the party to the right. True conservatism never got a hearing – particularly not in regard to Obamacare, which was, after all, modeled after a Massachusetts law signed by Romney. “Because of Romney and Romneycare, we did not litigate the Obamacare issue,” he says. Essentially, DeMint is declaring a mistrial.

So while John McCain and I – there’s a pairing I didn’t expect to write about – agree that elections have consequences, we nevertheless have Jim DeMint sticking up for the “these elections don’t really count” contingent.

And they don’t count, he argues, because that darned Republican presidential candidate just didn’t push the health care issue. Sure, if you have the memory of a fruit fly, you might not recall Romney promising in every speech for a year and a half to repeal the health care law, the ads promising to destroy the law on Romney’s first day in office, or the central role the anti-Obamacare message played in the Republican pitch in 2012.

But for the rest of us, it’s getting increasingly difficult not to just laugh out loud when Jim DeMint starts talking.

In fact, the closer one looks at this, the more hilarious DeMint appears.

I suspect he’d prefer that we forget, but in 2007, DeMint, then a U.S. senator, endorsed Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy, citing – you guessed it – Romney’s successful health care reform law in Massachusetts.

And yet, at this point, DeMint no longer remembers his affinity for Romney, his support for Romney’s health care plan, or Romney’s platform from last year’s campaign.

This guy’s the head of a once-relevant think tank?

On a related note, Molly Ball has a great new piece in The Atlantic on Heritage’s dwindling credibility under DeMint’s leadership.

[T]here is more at stake in Heritage’s transformation from august policy shop to political hit squad than the reputation of a D.C. think tank or even the careers of a few squishy GOP politicians. It is the intellectual project of the conservative movement itself. Without Heritage, the GOP’s intellectual backbone is severely weakened, and the party’s chance to retake its place as a substantive voice in American policy is in jeopardy.

As the right embraces a post-policy role in American politics, Republicans can thank DeMint for helping lead the way.