Conservative Republican Senator "Jim DeMint relishes life on the Republican fringe," a teaser headline on the website for the Los Angeles Times noted this afternoon (see screen capture below at right).
"The South Carolina senator's refusal to compromise has made him a conservative hero. He showers cash on 'tea party' candidates like Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, but he's winning few friends in D.C.," reads the subheadline to Tribune newspapers Washington bureau writer Lisa Mascaro's October 18 story.
Although the energy behind Tea Party-backed candidates in numerous Senate races has put the Republican Party within striking distance of taking not just the House but the Senate in the November 2 elections, Mascaro sought to portray DeMint as more a liability than an asset to the Republican Party in Congress.
To do so, Mascaro turned to, among others, a Republican senator who spoke on condition of anonymity:
[S]uccess within the Senate requires a different skill set. Persuasion and compromise are valued arts. Being a leader means coaxing colleagues to your side.
One Republican senator's eyes roll when DeMint is mentioned as a future leader.
"If people see that you sincerely are trying to make a difference in a piece of legislation, they will take you seriously," said the senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "If they realize it's all about making some political point, they don't."
Of course, this presumes that DeMint's goal should be to be a mild-manner, compromising center-right legislator rather than the vision DeMint has for himself as a leader of the conservative wing of the Senate GOP:
"I'm not a kingmaker and we don't need any more kings up here. What we need is just folks who are going to keep their oath of office for a limited government," he said. "Change comes hard here. So I think anyone who pushes a little bit is seen as a troublemaker."