Just before announcing his departure from the United States Senate, Jim DeMint gave me one last reason to praise him in that job.
He had spent Tuesday morning pointing out the lunacy of “putting revenues on the table,” which by necessity involves the belief that government does not have enough of our money. He advised against Republicans dividing over the issue and “treating the President’s proposal like it’s serious.”
He even delivered a twitter jab to the House leadership: "Speaker Boehner's offer of an $800 billion tax hike will destroy jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more."
For the umpteenth time, clarity and courage from Jim DeMint inspired me and galvanized my belief that this is no time for faint hearts and half-drawn weapons as we fight for the future of our country.
Then what does he do? He takes the exit ramp.
Just as I am praying for more rudders and compasses like his in both houses of Congress, he announces he will leave the Senate in January to become President of the Heritage Foundation.
I love Heritage. I always want them to have the leadership that serves their mission best. But did they have to land one of the most powerful voices in elected conservatism? Was there no one else who could have followed the proud record of Ed Feulner, whose stewardship nurtured Heritage from modest 1970s roots to its current perch of global renown?
I know, I know. The deal is done. Let’s not waste energy with hand-wringing. Let us instead wish all parties well, and make clear what we’d like to see on the path forward.
As Mr. Feulner maintains an important role at Heritage as Chancellor of the Foundation and Chairman of the Asian Studies Center, opinions are filtering in on what the addition of Jim DeMint will mean.
One’s view on this properly hinges tightly on one’s view of the DeMint record. As such, I believe Heritage secures its place in conservative hearts as a think tank that is not to be trifled with, a home for bold, unapologetic conservatism that fearlessly addresses the challenges of the day and gladly informs all comers about the wisdom of limited government, low taxes and a strong foreign policy.
In other words, it embraces the values I want in every Republican member of the Senate and the House, and the attributes I will seek in President Obama’s successor in 2016.
But this is not a unanimous view.
For any who have bristled at the DeMint ideology and style, there is some momentary relief as he departs, and a darker view of what Heritage has done in tapping him.