Heritage Action even has a new motto: "Opportunity for All; Favoritism to None." That's right, all they needed was a new motto and a nice puffy PR piece in the National Journal to relaunch themselves as Very Serious Policymakers who are kinder and softer than they were in the past.
And I've got a bridge in the Mojave Desert for sale.
While the conservative group makes no apologies for its fights with party leaders, it is embracing ideas from the party's intellectual wing—ranging from Rep. Paul Ryan to New York Timescolumnist Ross Douthat. In an article published in the winter issue of National Affairs, Heritage Action for America CEO Mike Needham approvingly cites Douthat's and Reihan Salam's recent book Grand New Party for acknowledging that modern-day conservatism struggles to offer policies that would benefit noncollege-educated, blue-collar, "Sam's Club" voters. And he credits Ryan with building a GOP consensus on controversial issues such as Medicare premium support. Needham's article also singles out Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah for praise, calling them among the "most innovative policy entrepreneurs among congressional Republicans."
"To many reform-minded observers eager to help the Republican Party build a mandate for a conservative governing agenda, this discord appears pointless and counterproductive, undermining Republican efforts to project the steadiness needed to govern while accomplishing little to improve the likelihood of future conservative policy victories," Needham wrote. "Unified Republican control of the Congress now presents an opportunity for a reset, perhaps making possible a fresh start for collaboration between the grassroots and the Republican leadership that has long been reluctant to govern from one house of Congress."
The piece previewed this week's Heritage Action for America policy summit, with its message titled: "Opportunity for All, Favoritism Towards None." While the two-day conference is featuring red-meat speeches from the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Tom Cotton, its focus was on advocating the "reform conservative movement." In kicking off the event, Heritage President Jim DeMint said the purpose of the conference was to "show Americans how our ideas and policies will make their life better and country stronger." In his speech, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price emphasized one of his goals in the upcoming year is to "normalize the debate on controversial issues" that Heritage advocates.
Normalizing the debate on controversial issues? As if that's not what they've been doing for the last six years? I'm old enough to remember when the policy ideas these people tout were considered far right fringe whacko ideas. Gosh, that was only six years or so ago. Now they're swimming in the mainstream, with Beltway press helping it along by failing to ever question how bizarre our politics have become.
This rebranding aligns with what the Kochs are trying to do with their initiatives on criminal justice reform. It's not so much that they actually care about that as a policy, but it's the one place they think they can corral Democrats into supporting something they support in order to kill the idea that they're lunatic billionaires who want to buy themselves the entire country so they can rule over it with their iron libertarian fists.
Only one politician benefits from that: Rand Paul. And Rand Paul is the Koch choice for President. Heritage Action is but one of many organizations repositioning themselves to help with the effort. We should all be looking askance at what can only be viewed as a cynical effort to distract everyone from the evil they do on a daily basis.