During his Senate campaign, Lee floated the idea of cutting the budget by 40 percent to erase the deficit right away. When that got some negative attention he described it as more of a thought experiment. But so far he's promising do what FreedomWorks and other Tea Party groups hoped he would when they backed him -- using a very safe seat as the high ground to launch Overton Window-shifting attacks on the political consensus.
Forget the question of whether Jim DeMint hurt the the GOP in a few Senate races. If all he did was help Rand Paul and Mike Lee into the Senate, he's tripled the number of die-hard strict constructionists in the GOP conference.
I'm not sure they are just going to be opening the Overton window to make previously looney conservos look reasonable. There's a reason why even Susan Collins, who isn't up for re-election in 2012, voted against one of her signature issues just last week. Lee won by primarying a staunch conservative. They are scared to death.