QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Last night, Fox News’ Bret Baier noted that some Republican leaders would prefer “a truce on social issues” for awhile, and asked Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) what he thought of such talk. He replied:

“Well, you can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative. A large part of the expansive government is to make up for a dysfunctional society because our culture’s falling apart. The family’s falling apart.”

I’ve never really understood how DeMint’s mind works, but this sentiment seems especially odd. Fiscal conservatives (a label that appears to have lost all meaning) must be social conservatives?

I’m not being deliberately obtuse here. There is a school of thought, embraced by some conservatives, that says a culture’s moral failings contribute to a certain societal chaos, which in turn creates a need for state intervention. I don’t know DeMint personally, but if I had to guess, this is probably what he’s referring to — in his mind, stronger families would mean a stronger society which would mean more stability and less government.

Taking that to the extreme, you can’t, in DeMint’s mind, be fiscally conservative and socially progressive, since the attitudes of social libertines end up being so darn expensive.

The problem, of course, is that this entire philosophy is pretty bizarre precisely because it’s predicated on silly assumptions — one has to seriously believe that reproductive rights and gay rights, for example, create a “dysfunctional society” that leads to a massive bureaucracy. The real world doesn’t actually work this way. Is DeMint seriously prepared to explain why, if a same-sex couple wants to get married — adding to a community, advancing stability — that this somehow leads to “big government”?

For that matter, if DeMint were serious about strengthening families, he could use his power to advance all kinds of pro-family policies — health care, better schools, child care, expanded worker protections/benefits, etc. — all of which he happens to reject.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.