But DeMint's performed one public service by abandoning his post: He's given us a glimpse of a half-hidden Washington where leaders don't lead, think-tankers don't think, and the house always wins.
Always Be Closing
DeMint's leaving to run the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing Reagan-era "think tank." Is he a policy expert, a problem solver, a "thinker"? What was DeMint's professional background before he entered politics?
Sales. DeMint ran a small marketing group (one to four employees, according to business databases) in Greenville, South Carolina.
That's not as incongruous as it sounds. The Heritage Foundation is a marketing organization, founded by billionaires and corporations to provide cogent-sounding arguments -- sales pitches, really -- for policies which favor them at the public's expense.
"Join Rush Limbaugh and nearly 700,000 other conservatives as a Member of The Heritage Foundation today," chirps the "think tank's" website -- presumably because the first name that comes to mind when Americans hear the word "thinker" is Rush Limbaugh.
DeMint's new job will undoubtedly consist of promoting far-right ideas, lobbying his fellow politicians, and raising money from millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.
That last part should come naturally. DeMint's collected more than $17 million in campaign contributions, raising four times as much as the average Senate candidate during the last two campaign cycles alone. His donor list includes defense contractors, megabanks, and the ubiquitous Koch Brothers.
DeMint's also raised more than $20 million in the last two years for his Tea Party PAC. You remember the Tea Party, don't you? That's the "people's revolt" against powerful Washington interests.
Good luck with that.
DeMint should feel right at home at an organization co-founded by right-wing beer magnate Joseph Coors. According to Right Wing Watch other corporate donors include General Motors, Ford, Proctor and Gamble, Chase, Dow Chemical, Mobil Oil, and Smith Kline pharmaceuticals.
The job pays more than a million dollars a year.
Call Them Irresponsible
DeMint's following the new, growing practice of walking out whenever a better offer comes along. First came trendsetter Sarah Palin, who quit halfway through her first term to pursue lucrative personal and television appearances. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri followed in the Demi-Governor's footsteps this year, announcing she'd be leaving Congress less than a month after winning re-election.
Emerson's "better offer" came from a group which lobbies for not-for-profit electric utilities. She refused to disclose how much she'll make at her new job as its president. "I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service," she added. "To the contrary," she added. "I see a new way to serve."
Most of these cash-and-carry quitters seem to be Republicans -- but not all. Democratic Senator Evan Bayh announced his decision not to seek re-election just one day before the filing deadline for his state's primary, a denying Democratic voters the right to choose their own nominee.