In 1958, The Blob appeared in theaters across America. The plot was standard science fiction fare: a meteor lands on the outskirts of a small Pennsylvania town and unleashes a ravenous alien life form that exponentially grows as it devours everything and everyone in its path. Well, it does until—spoiler alert!—teenage protagonist Steve Andrews discovers the Blob’s Achilles heel is cold. So informed, the townsfolk freeze the creature with an array of fire extinguishers; and then the U.S. Air Force transports the Blob to the Arctic.
The end? Perhaps, but in what may the first cinematic plug of climate change, Steve replies, “Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold.” Then, on screen appears an ominous question mark. (By the way, “Steve Andrews,” who surmised cold was the Blob’s bane, was the first big-screen role of Steve McQueen, who went on to become “the King of Cool.” Coincidence . . . ?)
Flash forward 60 years: In 2018, a $1.3 trillion spending bill belly flops into a swamp, unleashing a ravenous Blobnibus that exponentially grows as it devours everything and everyone in its path. Well, it does until . . . ?
Whereas in the movies the good folks can triumph over the Blob, in what passes for “real life” in the Swamp, there is no last second reprieve from the Blobnibus. Consequently, feeling betrayed that a Republican congressional majority supposed to stop the Blobnibus served instead as its enablers, an outraged conservative base won’t be scrounging around for fire extinguishers and Air Force transports to the Arctic.
No, in all likelihood, the conservative base will stay home and say, “screw ’em” while the Blobnibus consumes the GOP majority.
Now, there are almost as many theories as to how and why the Republicans arrived at this pretty pass as there are zeroes at the end of Blobnibus’ price tag; and sundry villains are posited as culpable for a bill Chuck Schumer deemed “the end of the era of austerity”—of which era only the Senator seemed aware.
Yet, as the I Ching instructs, “No blame.” No, I’ve never read it. But let’s give it a shot.
The Blobnibus was spawned by the GOP’s conventional electoral thinking: cater to the center and expect the base to stay true to you. What is to be the appeal to the center that this Blobnibus is alleged to have? District specific spending items; local, state and federal constituency targeted appropriations; and, yes, selling the broader message of being able to “govern.”
Like it or loathe it, this is a rational political calculation under normal circumstances, which helps explain the irrational actual circumstance of America’s $21+ trillion national debt. Regardless, for the sake of clarity, let us stipulate the GOP’s conventional electoral thinking is correct in its assumption the Blobnibus may attract centrist and independent voters to the party’s banner this November. The fatal mistake is assuming Republican voters will turn out for the Congress that produced this fiscal abomination.
Core Republican voters, unlike their elected servants in the Swamp, do not operate with conventional assumptions grounded in an irrational approach to the good of the nation. They actually expect their representatives to govern well. These voters understand that the GOP majority won the last “government shutdown” by standing on principle and exposing the Democrats injurious policy priorities and obstructionism. The GOP’s generic ballot gap plummeted to almost even; and, for an energized Republican base, it was good times. Now, in the slimy wake of the Blobnibus, in which Democrats are tossing each other laurel wreaths woven with taxpayers’ money while taking victory laps around the Capitol, the Republican base is dispirited.
And at the worst time. We have a midterm election coming up. Midterm elections are won by turning out your party’s base. Midterm elections are lost by turning off your party’s base. Ergo, as noted above:
“But wait,” say Republican optimists (all three of them), “there will be a new spending bill in a mere six months. The Republican Congress will have a chance to redeem itself by slashing federal spending right before the election.”
Can the GOP majority freeze the rapacious Blobnibus in its tracks before the party is consumed in the midterm election?
To paraphrase the King of Cool: “Yeah, as long as the Swamp gets drained.”
Yep. To stop Blobnibus, forget the fire extinguishers and an airlift. Anybody got a trencher and a sump pump?
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