An open letter to Jim Demint

Jim DemintDear Jim:

I know that you and I haven’t been exactly close since you had your personal, life-changing experience – discovering your one true god of campaign money and power. I know that even before that you seldom sought my advice, nor have I offered it,  but you crossed another line today by stating:

We saw within a few days that this President was going to be heavy-handed, he was going to implement his agenda and pay back his political allies, and it just went on from there to ObamaCare and then to Dodd-Frank. It has been the most anti-business and I consider anti-American administration in my lifetime. Things that are just so anathema to the principles of freedom, and everything he has come up with centralizes more power in Washington, creates more socialist-style, collectivist policies. This president is doing something that’s so far out of the realm of anything Republicans ever did wrong, it’s hard to even imagine.

Jim, I realize that you have had little recent experience interacting with people outside your clan to allow you to understand that Americans could vote differently than you, but they did. Our president, yours and mine, was democratically elected by a majority of Americans – even the Republican justices of the Supreme Court have said so – just as you were in South Carolina, at least the first time. By the way, I’ve been meaning to write and tell you that I thought what you did in the last election by getting your supporters to get Alvin Greene on the ballot was down right Machiavellian. I always believed you had it in you.

But, don’t you think it was just a wee bit hypocritical to say in 2007 that what Romney did in passing medical care for all in Massachusetts was “something that I think we should do for the whole country” and now that it has been passed, today you characterize President ObamaCare as “anti-business… socialist-style, collectivist policies”?

And, Jim, just what is your problem with Dodd-Frank? Is it just pandering to your donor base? Is your homophobia bothering you again? Or did you forget what happened under George W. Bush on Wall Street? Do you not remember that those abuses led to the worst recession in our nation in 80 years? Aren’t any of your friends or constituents among the 10-25 million under or unemployed? Did you forget that you are in Washington to fix things that are broken – and that Wall Street was and is broken? For god’s sake, Jim, are you suggesting that nothing should have been done? That no changes should have been made? Dodd-Frank is not “anti-business,” at its very best, it is sort of, pro-people, but not really. The rules for, which you have work so hard to undermine. I’m all for faith in religion, but faith-based regulation of greed has undermined the full faith and credit of the United States Government – you say it is an “anathema to the principles of freedom.” I suggest we can’t have freedom without it. And what’s this whole thing about tying it to President Obama? He didn’t write it. He just signed it. Dodd-Frank was written the way all bills are in Washington, by Congressional aids, with input from both parties’ most favored lobbyists.

Jim, presidents signing bills isn’t “heavy-handed” or “pay back.”  Signing bills is what presidents do. In eight years, W only vetoed bills about children’s health insurance (twice), water conservation, veterans’ care, defense appropriations, Katrina recovery, education funding, stem care research (twice) – by the way, did you happen to see the big break through using t-cells, which are derived from stem cells, that cured chronic lymphocytic leukemia and may soon be used for ovarian cancer? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

“This president is doing something that’s so far out of the realm of anything Republicans ever did wrong.” Come on Jim, surely, you do not mean to characterize the providing a little medical insurance and a little financial regulation for those without it, with Bush’s sins of lying to go to war, kidnapping, torture and subverting the Constitution? As you say, “it’s hard to even imagine.”

But to the main point, at least the main spin from your statement, in which you say that you consider President Obama’s the most “anti-American administration in my lifetime.” Jim, your statement is more anti-American than anything you suggest. We are at war. At least three wars.  Our President is proudly saluted as Commander-in-Chief by more than a million brave men and women in uniform. You defame them by your attack. You, who deferred out of the draft during Vietnam, should be ashamed.

Jim, your statements today are just plain stupid. I know you were talking to your base, but I also know you are not stupid. It does make me wonder, however, what your motives could be? Why would you say something so stupid? Could it be… was it because… Jim, are you still trying to get attention? Did you feel that you were being upstaged by the Iowa debate? Listen, we all know that your brother was the popular one and that you have always tried to be like him. But your brother isn’t popular because he says stupid, outrageous things, mean-spirited, un-American things. Your brother is popular because he likes people. Try it, it might work for you, too. You might start right there in South Carolina. There are people who need help and things that need being done that only the government can do. We are in trouble in this country. We need leaders who can and will help.

Please remember me to Debbie and your mom.

Regards,

Lee Leslie

 

22 thoughts on “An open letter to Jim Demint

  1. Monica Smith

    For some reason (I think it’s because they are instinct-driven) some people let their envy of outstanding people turn into jealousy when they discover they can’t compete. It’s sort of like that old song says, “you always hurt the one you love.”
    Of course, the very idea that the President of the United States, elected by a super majority of the electorate, is going to care what the demented Senator from South Carolina utters to attract some attention to himself, is just plain silly.
    I’ve been collecting names for a Barney Fife Brigade — Representatives that definitely need to be retired in 2012. DeMint seems a likely addition, except for the fact that he’s in the Senate and his term isn’t up. Addison Graves Wilson has got to go.
    There’s all sorts of ways to undermine an institution. Using it as a dumping ground for incompetents that nobody wants around is one of the most insidious. Who knew that was what the “law and order” gang was about?

    Reply
  2. Lee Leslie Post author

    Some great insights, Monica. Thank you for sharing. I’d suggest “dumping ground for electable egocentrics.” Jim was hardly successful in business and never involved in any community leadership. But being born again, married to the wealthy heiress of the largest advertising agency in the South (at the time) who happened to be an involved Republican, helped. However, it was the deal he made with Bob Jones University (anti-gay, anti-womens’ right, etc.) that allowed him to come from 18 points down in the primary to win the nomination in the Republican primary and beat a wonderful Democrat in the general election.

    Jim’s legislative success mirrors his business success: per govtrack.us, he has sponsored 212 bills since Jan 6, 1999 of which 186 haven’t made it out of committee (privatize SS, repeal healthcare reform, balance budget amendment, protect the US from its international treaties, kill unions, keep the treasury from helping homeowners, repeal Dodd-Frank, build the fence, drill now, allow states to opt out of minimum wage, allow toxic chemicals in manufacturing, reduce taxes to favor certain industries, lots of resolutions related to the pledge of allegiance, prayer and god, that sort of thing) -- and only 2 were successfully enacted -- he got a post office in his hometown named for someone and got a bill passed that prevents the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Please add him to your list.

    Reply
    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      Thanks, Chris. Frankly, I lost sleep over this post. I’ve known Jim all my life -- grew up in the same church, our parents were friends; Jim’s brother and my brother were roommates at UT (Jim, you know, is a UT grad) and are still close friends; Jim and I worked together (for my dad) for 10 years; etc. I haven’t written a word about him in all these years, and feel as if I am betraying him and making this personal -- but what he said yesterday, just got to me.

      Reply
      1. Judy Huck Hinton

        Extra gratitude for making such an eloquent statement in light of your personal history with this person. The divide between friends and families is reminiscent of Civil War discord in the populace…I am guilty of avoiding confrontation in my own relationships. It is painful. There is a moment when betrayal is no longer applicable, though, and you have stood up at that moment and spoken out. Thank you. You said this beautifully.

        Reply
  3. Guy Tucker

    Lee -- I liked the article in and of itself, but then to read of your connections with the DeMint family, it made it even better.

    Great passion, writing and thanking (yes I mispelled thinking and misused thanks).

    Guy

    Reply
  4. mike williams

    Thanks for an excellent piece, Lee. When I hear these guys stirring up rage and rabid emotion based on obfuscation, distortion and outright lies, I just want to ask them one simple question: “How can you look at yourself in the mirror and have any self-respect?” If the Honorable Senator happens to read your piece, written by someone who well and truly knows his character, I hope perhaps he might have at least a twinge of conscience.

    Reply
    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      The thing is, Jim does have a heart -- charity, kindness, all that stuff, he just doesn’t take it with him to the office. I don’t know about the conscience twinge, though -- it seems to me that all of them up there have been talking to themselves for so long they either believe the shit they say is true, or no longer remember what is. I do know that he loved being a power broker last fall and misses the spotlight during these primaries. I don’t know who he’ll eventually endorse, but I do suspect he’ll endorse whomever makes him seem most powerful -- I could see him cut a deal with Romney for the a place on the ticket or a say so on the ticket. Thanks, for reading.

      Reply
  5. Judy Huck Hinton

    Lee,
    Extra gratitude for making such an eloquent statement in light of your personal history with Sen Demint. The divide between friends and families is reminiscent of Civil War discord in the populace…I am guilty of avoiding confrontation in my own relationships. It is painful. There is a moment when betrayal is no longer applicable, though, and you have stood up at that moment and spoken out. Thank you. You said this beautifully.
    JHH

    Reply
    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      Thank you, Judy. Awfully hard for Southern boys to talk hard and personal about friends in public (not polite) -- but Jim had it coming. I suspect it will harder when later on when SC Republicans start commenting.

      Reply
  6. Jon Sinton

    Congratulations, Lee. I know this wasn’t an easy thing to do, but if we only stand by our convictions when it’s convenient and expedient, we’d all be Republicans. No wait, that’s unnecessarily harsh (and funny).

    Thanks for writing this important piece. I’m putting it up on http://www.ProgressiveVoices.com, and tweeting it too. Somehow, we have to make people accountable for their words--even when they’re only speaking to their base. Lies and distortions may be a political stock in trade, but we’re in some serious trouble here, and it is time for respectable behavior that puts country over party.

    Reply
    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      I don’t think it is unnecessarily harsh, though it is very funny. Reading John Tures’ post today, “The Real Sarah Palin Email Scandal,” it reminded me that Jim DeMint and other Republicans are playing roles. At home and with friends, their personal convictions and actions are much different that the roles they play on the public stage. In so many ways, it makes their public actions and statements even more scandalous for the fraud they perpetuate.
      Appreciate the share and I do agree that we are in serious trouble here.

      Reply
  7. Will Cantrell

    What Jim Demint and his GOP cronies REALLY “…saw within a few days…” was that Obama was not another in a very long line of white, Anglo Saxon POTUS! (There, I said it.) I wonder what their attitude have been if the elected POTUS had been Hillary or Bill Richardson or Barney Frank?

    To me, the most disheartening thing about the past (almost) three years is the GOP/Tea Party/neocons’ hell bent for leather attitude of wanting to see Obama fail! I guess that all sounds entertaining on talk radio or Fox News but in reality the attitude is heartbreaking. Until shortly after the inauguration of our current President, I thought there remained a few statesmen who were willing to cast politics and vitriol aside and put the country and the good of its people ahead. Just like those folks, who bought into the idea that we now lived in a post racial world, seems as if I was dead wrong.

    Lastly, Demint and his crowd is that they set an awful ‘say anything’, ‘do anything’ ‘win at all costs’ example for our children and grandchildren –the very same children for whom “we” say that “we” savor good role models. It’s all very depressing to those of us who love our country, all of its people and who want only the best quality of life for all of us. I hope that Jim Demint and his ilk are happy with themselves. Sadly, I think they are.

    Thanks for another great article, Lee. Will

    Reply
    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      Will, I have spent the last 15 minutes arguing with myself whether they would have treated Hillary or Bill Richardson or Barney Frank differently. I wish it were no so, but they, Jim DeMint and his GOP cronies, would have been treated each similarly. The innuendo and parsing to allow anti-women, anti-feminist, anti-Hispanic, anti-immigration, and anti-gay rhetoric, while being phrased differently than the closeted and often openly racists comments they make now, I am convinced their sentiments would have been delivered with the same vitriolic, hateful, divisive and fear-mongering blather. I also believe they would have used different tactics for another in a very long line of white, Anglo Saxon POTUS.

      Their goal to make a man fail who has risen from impossible circumstances to lead us at such an important and defining time, is one they must fight for fear of forever having equality proved at an historic moment by action and not just science, life experience, values and faith. I am ashamed that instead of working and uniting to fix America’s problems, the are working to bring us to ruin and to blame their failures on someone else. It is heartbreaking.

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  8. Austin McMurria

    Nice objective piece about a guy with a third grade education in economics, politics, and world culture. You have to admire how he refuses to alter his arguements despite the fact that conditions change. All this anti-liberalism malarchy is just good old americanism ossified from the “either / or ” mentality of cold war politics (i.e. he is a deluded Neo-McCarthyite).

    Sickens me to discuss him. Max Foster made a fortune selling municipalities sewer pumps- call him for hints on Demint removal.

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  9. Andy Brack

    Lee,

    Outstanding column. On behalf of the entire group of thinking people of South Carolina (perhaps not that big of a group), let me apologize for Jim DeMint and his five grumpy dwarves in the House: Scott, Wilson, Duncan, Gowdy and Mulvaney.

    Reply

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