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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Marginalizing Jim DeMint: Are Senate Republicans Trying to Get Tom Coburn to Be Judas to Conservatives?

As you know, Senate Republicans are more than a little unhappy with Jim DeMint. The Senate GOP will see an influx of DeMint backed candidates after November. Consequently, the Senate GOP has become more fixated with marginalized Jim DeMint than fighting Barack Obama.For perspective, Mitch McConnell won’t even campaign against or speak ill of Harry Reid to help Sharron Angle. But his minion are all over Washington newspapers badmouthing Jim DeMint.The latest story coming out of the Senate GOP Conference is that the Senate GOP has decided to ignore Jim DeMint.

“Jim DeMint isn’t the most effective legislator, so he has to gain power by driving headlines. His Achilles’ heel is everyone saying, ‘no comment,’” a Republican said.

That’s from one Republican who, not being identified as a staffer, may be a Senator. Another, a staffer, said, “It’s like a piece of fruit. If you leave it on the counter long enough, it will spoil and go rotten on its own. I feel like that’s what’s going to happen with Jim DeMint.”With the coming wins by DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, these Republican whiners are much like a boxer talking smack at the weigh in only to get knocked out in the first round.So they’ll talk about him and then say no comment. But there is something more and it is more troubling. It appears the Senate GOP is trying to set up Tom Coburn to be Jim DeMint’s Brutus and conservatives’ Judas.

According to numerous Republicans familiar with the issue, the hope had been to recruit Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to challenge DeMint for the post [of Chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee]. Coburn is as conservative as DeMint, which would shield him against attacks from conservative activists and limiting accusations that the GOP was stifling conservative demands.

As of now, thankfully, Senator Coburn has refused to go along with the plan and fully supports Jim DeMint in that position. I’m sure Senator Trainwreck, himself never enamored with Washington, is wise enough to know he is being used or at least the GOP leadership is attempting to use him. But there is more to it.Senate Republicans also want Coburn to be the liaison to the freshmen Senators. In effect, the Senate GOP Leadership wants Tom Coburn to be their outreach guy to the band of brothers (and sisters) Jim DeMint played a great roll in getting elected.

The Senate’s class of 2010 may have Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) partly to thank for their electoral victories, but if they’re going to flourish in the chamber they may want to follow the lead of conservative Sen. Tom Coburn.Republicans said Coburn — who often leads his party’s charge against earmarks and spending — is as conservative as many of the likely GOP newcomers, but also is close to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). They argue that the Oklahoma Republican may be the best Member to help his party’s leadership work with the new class and help the freshmen adjust to the Senate.

That last bit is key. Remember what Trent Lott said a couple of months ago?

“We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,” Lott said in an interview. “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

The Senate Republicans have decided to take on Trent Lott’s mission and co-opt the freshmen Republicans. And they intend to use Tom Coburn to do it.It will be bad, bad news if these freshmen “adjust’ to the Senate. We don’t need them to adjust to the Senate. We need the Senate to adjust to them.

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