“The Blob has won,” wrote a disconsolate correspondent of the London Sunday Telegraph the other day. “That’s the end of our dreams of a new, dynamic, independent country.” He was referring to the departure of Dominic Cummings, a close advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Cummings was widely understood to be Johnson’s point man in efforts to reform what is sometimes called in Britain (as it is here) the “deep state.” There, it is also called “the blob,” a term coined by Michael Gove, one of Mr. Johnson’s cabinet colleagues, to describe Britain’s recalcitrant education bureaucracy when he was education secretary.
Ben Rhodes, one of Barack Obama’s senior advisors, referred to America’s interventionist defense and foreign policy establishment as “the blob,” but I think we should apply it to the whole of our own deep state, which President Trump likes to call “the swamp,” and which, for the last four years, has preferred to style itself as “the resistance.” Swamp, resistance, or blob, the American version also believes it has won.
I don’t know if you remember the 1958 film called The Blob—which gave a young Steve McQueen his first starring role—but it was set in the Philadelphia area, which also appears to have played a role in the newest revival of the blob. The original one didn’t win, however, but was stopped by CO2 fire extinguishers, frozen solid, then dropped by parachute into the Arctic where it was expected to remain immobilized, if not dead, for “as long as the Arctic stays cold.”
Now, as you may have noticed, we are hearing every day that the Arctic isn’t cold any longer but is melting away at an alarming rate. Coincidence? You be the judge. Also like the old blob, the new blob has no head—or any other body parts we normally associate with living things of a size sufficient to eat people. It is an undifferentiated mass, like a single-celled creature but immeasurably bigger. That must also be why it has assumed as a kind of figurehead the unresisting imbecility of Joe Biden. Like the blob itself, he appears to be invulnerable to attack behind the double layer of protection afforded by the media and the dense, unyielding mass of inert material between his ears.
Stephen Pollard, also writing in the Sunday Telegraph, mentioned Mr. Gove’s “blob” (and the old movie) in connection with Mr. Cummings’s departure, noting that “his fall is merely the latest example of how difficult it is to reform Britain from inside Whitehall. . . . Nothing new or surprising there; the greatest post-War reformer of them all, Baroness Thatcher, faced internal opposition, both political and administrative, that could well have defeated her. It took her years to push the supposed Rolls-Royce Whitehall machinery in even vaguely the same direction in which she was travelling.”
He might have added that she was almost as much hated in her day by the establishment of both parties as Mr. Trump is today, but that she won three successive elections anyway. The difference between then and now is that the British media in the 1980s was nothing like so monolithic as the American media is today. There were even two or three large-circulation national newspapers that were sometimes on her side, if you can believe it.
That’s where that old, 1958 blob made its big mistake. It didn’t get the media on its side. There was no doubt when the movie was made that the blob-hating townspeople whom it was gobbling up were the good guys and that the blob was bad. Very bad. You could tell because the U.S. Air Force joined in the fight against it. The new blob has been smarter than that. Now, with the help of the media, the blob has somehow persuaded half the country that it’s the good guy, that its victims are white supremacists and evil oppressors of minorities and that the highest—indeed, the only—human aspiration consists in becoming assimilated into the alien mass of the blob.
That’s the only explanation I can think of for the otherwise inexplicable fact that the American people appear to have invited the blob back into their lives as something to appease and bow down to in the hope that it will decide to eat them last—only, that is, after it has eaten all the Trumpites. At least that’s the only explanation I can think of apart from the one which holds that the blob cheated in order to slither back into all our lives. But who could believe that?