DeMint keeps playing the Christmas card

DEMINT KEEPS PLAYING THE CHRISTMAS CARD…. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), arguably the chamber’s most right-wing member, hasn’t had much luck winning policy arguments lately. It’s gotten so bad, he’s been reduced to whining incessantly about having to do what the vast majority of Americans do: work in mid-December.

Last week, DeMint called legislative work before Christmas “sacrilegious.” Yesterday, he said the bipartisan majority poised to approve the pending nuclear arms treaty, New START, is “doing this under the cover of Christmas,” which he characterized as “something to be outraged about.”

Foreign Policy‘s Josh Rogin asked DeMint yesterday what on earth he’s talking about.

“It has nothing to do with us not being willing to work. For the [continuing resolution] I’m willing to work right through New Year’s. It’s just, trying to do [New START] under the cover of people being distracted. […]

“The whole lame duck [session] to me is an illegitimate process and the intent to do whatever is the nation’s business that has to be done, such as fund the government. But to pass major legislation during the lame duck is not the intent.”

Funny, DeMint didn’t seem to feel the same way when he voted to impeach President Clinton* in the lame-duck session after the 1998 midterms. I wonder what changed his mind?

Look, this is ridiculous. New START has been pending since April. Dems aren’t trying to rush it through; they wanted to ratify it months ago, but ran into Republican delays. If DeMint wanted a debate well before the winter holidays, he shouldn’t have relied so heavily on obstructionist tactics that pushed off the debate.

As for the notion that voters are “distracted,” which makes the process “illegitimate,” this is just incoherent. Voters are always going to have other things on their minds — folks are busy with family responsibilities, jobs, etc. Besides, the treaty has been on the table since April, and polls show overwhelming public support for ratification.

DeMint went on to tell Rogin, “[I]t is obvious that Americans do not expect their unelected officials to come in and make major decisions when we’re not supposed to be here and they’re not paying attention.”

Let’s be real clear about this: lawmakers voting on New START are not “unelected.” Aside from a handful of appointed senators, every member was chosen by a majority of their constituents to serve through the 111th Congress. In this case, the 111th Congress isn’t over. For DeMint to characterize democratically elected U.S. senators as “unelected” is insane.

I get that DeMint doesn’t like the treaty, but if he expects anyone to take him seriously, he’ll have to do much better than this.

*Corrected