The Fall of the Heritage Foundation and the Death of Republican Ideas - 2013-09-25
These days, Heritage has a different crusade. The foundation's president, the confrontational former Senator Jim DeMint, spent the last month touring the country, drawing cheering crowds as he demanded that Republican politicians insist that Obamacare be defunded—and denouncing those who wouldn't go along. "Republicans are afraid," DeMint told NPR. "And if they are, they need to be replaced." The foundation's three-year-old activism arm, Heritage Action, spent half a million dollars on online ads targeting 100 Republican House members who didn't sign on to the defund crusade ("Tell Representative Tom Cole to Stop Funding Obamacare").
The push from Heritage helped the defund scheme gather momentum, forcing Republican leaders to pull their proposed funding bill and replace it with one the Senate has committed to block. The resulting confrontation may force a government shutdown. Republicans who once worked out legislative language with the help of Heritage's distinguished Ph.D.s felt whiplash seeing the group cheerlead for collapse. Heritage was supposed to be above politics, they grumbled. Heritage was supposed to be about serious ideas, not tactical fights. White papers, not political campaigns—and certainly not campaigns against Republicans.