Up until this morning, we'd never really had much of a problem with U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint
. Other than penning the occasional cookie-cutter social conservative press release or pro-Iraq War opinion editorial, we weren't entirely sure if DeMint actually did anything up in Washington, D.C.
Well it turns out the man who was recently ranked as the nation's least powerful Senator does do one thing quite well - stab his longtime friends and key allies in the back.
This morning, we logged onto our friend Sunny Philips blog
and stumbled upon a letter DeMint sent out to the Republican faithful.
In one breath, DeMint attacks individuals who have injected themselves in the 2007 State Chairman's race.
"We simply cannot afford for party leaders and activists to lose focus on this November’s election," DeMint writes.
Yet in the very next breath, DeMint injects himself
into the 2007 State Chairman's race by endorsing current SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson.
"For the record, I support Katon and hope he will seek re-election next year," DeMint continues.
Last time we checked, telling people not to do something and then immediately turning around and doing it yourself was the definition of hypocrisy.
And let's not forget that DeMint is openly encouraging Dawson to break his word, the latter having promised to serve only two terms when he was elected.
Not that Dawson's word ever really meant anything, anyway.
Many will remember how Dawson pledged to strictly enforce party neutrality when he was elected in April 2002 as Chairman, but then turned around and stroked a check to former Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler
's failed gubernatorial campaign and stored Peeler for Governor signs in his auto parts garage complex (Peeler lost to Gov. Mark Sanford 60-40 in the June 2002 GOP runoff
And even after Sanford (and Lindsey Graham, Greg Ryberg and Andre Bauer, among others) won in the 2002 primaries, Dawson still refused to help these candidates, actually withholding the SCGOP donor list from his own party's statewide voter mobilization organization, Victory 2002.
Dawson also muscled GOP 5th Congressional District challenger Park Gillespie
to the side in an open GOP primary against Bush's golden boy Ralph Norman
- odd indeed, given the fact that Dawson did nothing to keep Oscar Lovelace
from mounting a primary challenge against an incumbent Republican governor
, and then did nothing when a Republican State Senator threatened to mount a write-in campaign against his own party's incumbent in the general election.
Mr. Katon "Strict Neutrality" Dawson is already telling folks that he will be leading the South Carolina 2008 Presidential campaign of Virginia Sen. George Allen
, who is currently in danger of losing his U.S. Senate seat after making racially insensitive remarks.
Yup, Dawson has remained about as neutral in his role as SCGOP chairman as groups like SCRG have been "neutral" on the school choice issue.
Which brings us back to the endorsement of the good junior Senator, Mr. DeMint.
In backing Dawson, DeMint is openly opposing
the candidacy of one of his biggest personal and financial supporters, longtime SCGOP activist and fundraiser Kevin Hall
, who raised tens of thousands of dollars for DeMint during his 2004 primary and general election campaigns (not to mention tens of thousands for Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Mark Sanford two years earlier). Long story short, there are any number of Republican "powerbrokers" DeMint could have stabbed in the back without fear of it coming back to haunt him, but Hall is most assuredly not one of them.
And what does DeMint stand to gain from this morning's "Et tu, Brute
Endorsements in any political race have a questionable impact (i.e. George H.W. Bush
and Jenny Sanford
endorsing Mike Campbell
for Lt. Governor, Mark Sanford
endorsing Greg Ryberg
for Treasurer, etc.), but their impact is even less important in a state chairman's race - where turnout at precinct organizational meetings and county conventions determines the slate of delegates that decide the chairmanship.
Sadly, DeMint's cold miscalculation is the latest chapter in an ongoing, debilitating intra-party struggle that dates all the way back to the Bush-McCain spat of 2000, and it is the best recent evidence we have (other than Dawson's consistent intra-party favoritism) that this struggle continues unabated to this day.
The bottom line is that DeMint should have heeded his own advice.
The Republican Party's fratricidal war of internal attrition (McCain v. Bush, Graham v. Social Conservatives, Sanford v. General Assembly, Rainey v. Ravenel, etc.) requires - in Bush's own words - a uniter, not a divider.
Sadly, DeMint has shown us with today's letter that he, like Dawson, understands the politics of division all too well. He may, too, soon understand what those divisive words will sow for him ..."Mischief, thou are afoot. Take what course thou wilt!"