When reporters questioned House GOP leaders Tuesday on whether the national picture was really that dire, Minority Whip Steve Scalise offered up still more crises—Democrats' antisemitism, labor shortages. Good God, people, wake up! Trump had a well-oiled machine and now everything's gone to hell in a handbasket. The Times writes Scalise’s response:
“Unfortunately they’re all real,” he said capping a 25-minute news conference in which the word “crisis” was used once a minute, “and they’re all being caused by President Biden’s actions.”
Working in crisis once a minute for 25 minutes is a real feat. Republicans are surely proud since repetition often trumps fact, particularly when it comes to the GOP base.
The new crisis talking point is reportedly the brainchild of Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who took over House GOP messaging duties after Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming was axed for telling the truth about the GOP's Big Lie.
Stefanik's big idea is that the midterms will be a referendum on Biden and congressional Democrats (not exactly rocket science material) and that Republicans must start painting a dark and ominous portrait of misery for the country even as the clouds begin to let a smidge of sunshine through after Trump's reign of American carnage.
The other GOP goal in fabricating chaos and misery is creating a diversion so voters don't notice as Trump ramps up his summer revenge tour. This is among the most preposterous of GOP hopes—that stoking imaginary crises will somehow overshadow the 800-pound Republican gorilla in the room.
As the Times article points out, Republicans are experts in making mountains of mole hills—think Benghazi and death panels. But their rapid-fire string of outrages now is utterly dizzying: Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, cancel culture, migrant crossings, critical race theory, young transgender athletes, the Wuhan lab leak theory, Vice President Kamala Harris' absence at the border, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rep. Ilhan Omar. Don't worry, next week something brand new and totally outrageous will pose yet another existential threat to America and all that was once good and right in the world.
The problem is, back in the Benghazi days, Republicans used to at least pretend to add in a dab of substance here and there. This was something Eric Boehlert, founder of PRESS RUN, pointed out on The Brief this week. Now, their endlessly shrill warnings that "the sky is falling" when it's actually looking pretty blue and sunny to most Americans is completely devoid of anything resembling substance.
In fact, Senate Republicans in particular are beginning to find this out as they try to reinsert something resembling substance back into the debate. Their base isn't the least bit interested in the GOP's red meat from yesteryear—they're addicted to Trumpian grievance highs.
House Republicans reportedly have big plans to formulate some actual policy proposals at some point. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has even formed seven different task forces to tackle the gargantuan task.
“The goal is to be ready on Day 1,” should the Republicans take back the majority, said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who leads the big tech task force.
Well, that sounds pretty underwhelming to anyone who actually cares about policy. Fortunately for Republicans, their base actually doesn't care about policy anymore.
But at the same time, GOP lawmakers have become prisoners of the 24/7 outrage echo chamber they now inhabit, where right-wing propaganda outlets effectively dictate the GOP agenda. And the fact that Republicans now live in that alternate reality with their delusional base isn't expanding their appeal to more voters one bit.
It's not a 50-plus-1 strategy, it's a purely suppress-the-vote strategy.