Deconstructing Jim Demint

It is a difficult and painful experience being in the head of a man like Jim Demint. The junior senator from South Carolina was a darling of the Tea Party and the GOP when he predicted that health care would be the President’s “Waterloo”; now he is just another Republican eating a steady diet of crow. The bill that Mr. Demint said nobody would like once they read the details, is now a law that people are starting to support as the details come to light. Beyond his unfortunate foray into political prognostications, Jim Demint has proven to be a rather typical Republican rubber stamp, chalking up 100% voting records on every conservative plank.

Now, in light of the immigration law in Arizona, the good senator is trying to once again separate himself from the pack. He has aligned himself with the sullied reputation and questionable record of David Vitter (R-Louisiana), in an amendment designed to squelch the Obama Administration’s ability to file suit over Arizona’s infamous (and popular) SB 1070. Beyond the fact that Mr. Vitter is chair of the border security caucus, the move by Demint is questionable on two key points. First, David Vitter has real problems with his constituents that are likely to limit him throughout the campaign season. The Louisiana senator is dealing with fallout from his handling of a staff member’s criminal case, his apparent patronage of Washington D.C. prostitutes, and his tepid and uneven response to Hurricane Katrina.

The bigger problem with Demint’s choice though, is his oath of office. His amendment is an assault on the Constitution and the President’s sworn duty to uphold and defend it, as well as Senator Demint’s own sworn duty to uphold and defend the preeminent law of our land.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

The Constitution is very specific on the point of supremacy of federal laws over state laws. The lawsuit filed by the Justice Department has three causes of action: the supremacy clause, preemption, and the (dormant) commerce clause. The federal argument does not attack the law on either equal protection grounds (racial profiling) or 4th Amendment grounds (unwarranted search and seizure). The Obama Administration is not suing, in other words, to protect a minority, something that seems (and regrettably so) to be a point of emphasis in some reporting. This information is well-known to all in the halls of government, and is acknowledged by a diverse range of legal observers. Don’t believe me? Let’s listen to Fox News then:

That this action is par for the course for Republicans isn’t at issue. The strategy of the GOP since 2008, far from making a real attempt to propose sound conservative legislation, has been to reflexively attack every action by the Obama Administration and Democratic Congressional leadership. But this action is a specific, unwarranted, and egregious attack on Constitutional principles. He must know that the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, as strict constructionists, will not support the Arizona law. He must understand that all president’s must take the very action that Mr. Obama is now, regardless of, and in spite of the politics of the matter.

A secondary fact that serves to add insult to injury, is the fact that the Obama Administration, far from being lax on border security, has done more than the Bush Administration to enforce the laws. This fact is evidenced by the graph at left (click on the graph for better detail). Under President Obama’s leadership, illegal aliens have been deported at a higher rate than under President Bush (who himself did make a strong effort). Also, this administration has put its emphasis on criminal aliens, as seen in the graph. The Obama Administration deported more criminal aliens in 2009, than the Bush Administration did in the two full fiscal years after 9/11.

The good senator from South Carolina is, to be sure, dealing with a lot these days. His predictions on health care float like an albatross over his head. His stance as just another Republican senator leaves him far short of the stature and influence of fellow South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. In the fallout from the questionable South Carolina primaries (on both sides of the political spectrum), there has even been questions of impropriety cast in his direction. Election irregularities don’t have to be proved to cast a pall on a political figure in our modern age of cable news and the internet. So yes, Senator Demint has reason to be less than happy with his current political position.

Should all of that drama be mitigation for his desperate over-reach of political theater? Should the poisoned political climate excuse a senator from the most basic research required before entering such an aggressive amendment into the public record? The single answer for both of those questions must be no. There is no excuse or mitigation for a senator that fails to understand the basics of our Constitution; it is the document a senator must swear to uphold. It may not excuse his actions, but the explanation for them is simple; the blatant disrespect for, and contempt of this president has blinded many politicians to their responsibilities to the people and our posterity.

The Rational Middle is listening…

7 thoughts on “Deconstructing Jim Demint

  1. If it adds anything to the discussion, Demint has said in interviews he doesn’t expect his amendment to pass. It’s more or less a Political Ploy to “Out” Senators forcing them to expose their support or not of the Arizona Law.

    Michael, I honestly think this (suing Arizona) is a calculated Political move on the part of the administration. I’m sure somewhere in the bowels of the White House, someone has conducted research that shows the benefits of this sideways run on Hispanic support will offset the general damage done. Personally, I think it is not a good move.

    We shall see what we shall see.

  2. Hank you may always jab…I ask for commentary and criticism, and you always deliver in good taste. I think your jab is a good one, and a markedly better argument against the federal suit than any other I have heard.

    To your point on politics, making a purely political calculation that goes against a solid 55%-60% of the country would be a sorry calculation indeed, regardless of how ingratiating to Hispanics it may be.

    As to the “weak dodge on a salient issue”…two wrongs don’t make a right. A wise man from Tennessee told me that before:) I would really need to see what laws you are referring to by other states before responding…but in any case, the federal response on this issue is clear and appropriate.

    Finally, this is not about punishment…this is the process of the Founders in action. It will be heard through the judiciary, and case law will either be upheld or overturned. That is the way it is supposed to work…Demint’s weak amendment is an end-run around established process.

  3. Okay Michael. So I assume you are supporting the Federal Government’s selective enforcement practices? And with their proposed litigation, selective punishment practices?

    I’m not sure Napolitano has the proper read on this one. (And no. I have no basis other than that’s just now how i understand it OR think it will be interpreted.) The way I see and understand it, the state of Arizona is simply requiring it’s law enforcement personnel to enforce the Federal Laws. I think it’s going to be an interesting court case. And I’m not sure it is a correct interpretation to aver the State of Arizona is attempting to preempt OR supersede Federal Authority. They are simply re-committing to enforcing the Federal Law. That’s just the way I see it.

    There are mitigating facts within the “irrefutable evidence” you state. Honestly , I don’t have it at my fingertips but if you challenge that assertion, I will ferret it out.

    I have tremendous respect for your commentary and thought, but I take great exception to two statements you make.

    To say this is “not some other law in some other place” may be accurate, but it really doesn’t address the concerns many citizens have about what at least appears to be very selective punishment (?) (for lack of a better word) of suing one State for alleged transgressions while turning a blind eye to blatant transgressions by others. That’s really (I’m sorry) kind of a weak dodge of a salient issue. And I don’t mean that as a slight, just an observation.

    And I’m not sure about your assertion this is not a “political calculation by the Administration”. I think President Obama is taking a calculated action in an attempt to ingratiate the Hispanic vote without taking up the tougher and larger issue of Illegal Immigration and Reform. And I would further the opinion that waging “war” as it were, against a state may cost his Administration and the Democrats far more than it will gain. Honestly, even his own party can’t get organized behind this effort.

    No sir. With all due respect. I think it is a calculated political move that may well back fire.

    May I offer a little “tongue in cheek” jab without tweaking you too bad?

    Why is it “…the way the Founders designed it.” is a valid argument now?? I thought the Constitution was supposed to be that “living, breathing” thing?? :-) :-) (Come on now. Intended in good humor.)

  4. The basis is the Constitution Hank. No state can preempt or supersede the Federal authority on a number of areas…period. These concepts were well explained by Judge Napolitano. This is not a political calculation by the Administration Hank. And the issue is Arizona SB 1070, not some other law in some other place. Arizona 1070 violates the supremacy clause, the Executive Branch is filing suit in the federal judiciary to enjoin that state. This is how the process is supposed to work.

    No state can choose to enforce trade agreements, or espionage cases, or any other case which has federal jurisdiction, whether they think the feds are doing their job or not. To do so would be to destroy the platform the United States is built on. And to the completely irrelevant point about whether the laws on immigration are being enforced or not…I believe I listed irrefutable evidence in the piece that they are being enforced better now than at any point in the past.

    Arizona has representation in the federal government; two senators (both Republicans) and 8 members of the House (5 of them Republicans). They are tasked with airing state grievances and bringing to the fore state needs in the United States government. That is the way the Founders designed it.

  5. Michael – So are you asserting that if the Federal Government chooses to ignore the proper enforcement of a law, then the States can or should do nothing but sit back and observe? Why is it they choose to sue Arizona for trying to enforce Federal Immigration Laws but ignore States that flaunt the Federal Immigration Laws with Sanctuary Status for Illegal Immigrants?

    Can you point me to a Constitutional Basis for compelling a State to ignore an Illegal Activity?

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