NPR talk show host Diane Rehm mentioned listening to Rush Limbaugh on Friday -- this is a bit of a shock, since she's written several editorials against Limbaugh and other "hot button" commercial radio hosts. The subject was Sen. Jim DeMint leaving the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation.
Rehm, of course, chose to imply this might mean that the Tea Party is "losing its power" in Washington:
DIANE REHM: He had four more years left on his term. He had pledged to retire in 2016. In the Senate, he made $174,000. In 2010, his predecessor at the Heritage Foundation where he's going to head up made $1.1 million. I listened to DeMint yesterday as he talked with Rush Limbaugh, who asked him whether he would have the kind of power at Heritage that he's had in the Senate. He said, oh, much more in shaping conservative thought, getting out the conservative message. Limbaugh said, what? You were of one of 100 people in the Senate. Has the Tea Party, in the form of Jim DeMint, somehow lost its power? Shawna.
SHAWNA THOMAS, NBC NEWS: I would say I think they've lost a little bit of this -- of their power due to the latest election and that we saw some of these candidates who had -- primary Republicans who had been in Senate and been in the House before lose to Democrats in races like Indiana, that a year ago -- two years ago, when 2010 happened, you would have never thought would've happened. So they have lost a little of that.
LORI MONTGOMERY, WASHINGTON POST: ...And Democrats feel like the Tea Party -- you remember, the Tea Party was a creature of the economic meltdown of 2008. It was a reaction to feeling like government was bailing out everybody but me. And Democrats feel like they have -- the tide has turned a little bit with, you know, the Occupy Wall Street movement and now this sense that it's not so much government bailouts, it's general economic inequality. And that has sort of -- they feel that they're sapping the power or the Tea Party because they've identified this other broader societal concern that is really at the bottom of people's minds. Why are the rich making out better than I am?
When a caller suggested you can't retire the national debt just with tax hikes, Montgomery offered a rebuttal: "Nobody has a plan right now, including the Republicans, to halt the debt or even pay it down. I mean, our financial situation has been so damaged by policy decisions over the last 10 years -- going to war, for the first time in our history, without paying for it, tax cuts that we knew were going to drive us back into debt. I mean, we have a long road to recovery, and the debt limit is going to have to keep going up until we get that under control. "