Deep State

Author: Gary Hart

The gap between reality and fantasy has grown in recent days.  Among the unexpected demons the new Administration has encountered since entering office is something variously called the “deep state” or the “administrative state.”  A Mr. Bannon, its discoverer, now attributes road blocks to the Administrations confused agenda to this mysterious entity which otherwise is undescribed.  The suggestion is that this entity lies deeply imbedded within the United States Government, obeys no orders from elected officials, and pursues an agenda of its own.

Let’s consider how this might work.  The “deep state’s” tentacles would necessarily have to extend to virtually all federal agencies from the Pentagon, to the Treasury Department, to the Small Business Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Transportation Department, Intelligence agencies, and so on.  Either this network is small, but still effective, in which case it is perhaps several hundreds of people, or it is very large and has thousands if not tens of thousands of members.

To be as insidiously effective as it is suggested to be, this network, or at least a committee of its leaders, would have to meet or otherwise communicate to coordinate agendas—the suggestion being in this case to thwart anything and everything of consequence the Trump Administration proposes.  The further suggestion is that this “deep state” has been around for a while.

Presumably this network is loyal to Democratic or progressive administrations.  If so, how have we gone through two Eisenhower, one and a half Nixon, two Reagan, one H. W. Bush, two W. Bush administrations and not one senior official has blown the whistle on this “deep state”, written a book or books, dominated Fox News with interviews, let the American people, or at least those right of center, know about this insidious and sinister monster inhabiting the basements of dozens of granite federal office buildings throughout the city?

There is also Congress to consider.  Its committees are required by the Constitution to oversee the budgets and performance of all federal agencies.  Both Houses of Congress are under the control of the President’s Party.  Few if any have stepped forward to support Mr. Bannon’s frightening allegations about a state within a state, a secret government run by whom, accountable to whom, and with what agenda?  Has it been lying in wait all these years for…Donald Trump?

A couple of generations of Woodward and Bernsteins have forgone Pulitzer Prizes and wealth and fame by neglecting (or conspiring to hide?) this secret.  But that is the loathed “main stream media” and who pays attention to them anymore.  But what about Fox itself?  Is it so fair and balanced that it walked right by the story of a lifetime, one that would guarantee conservative government for decades to come?

Because the scattered pieces of this puzzle don’t begin to form a coherent picture, thoughtful people can only conclude that the “deep state” exists somewhere in that universe of alternative facts, available only to those in the know, those who have learned the meaning of the ultrasound dog whistle, can fully understand.

If this kind of stuff continues for four years, we are going to have to build a lot more homes for the mentally ill.  The question is: who will be on the inside and who will be on the outside?

5 Responses to “Deep State”

  1. Edward Goldstick Says:

    Senator Hart,

    Your deconstruction of Steve Bannon’s dark self-serving fantasy is adequate in its own right, but I must admit that I agree with Chuck Spinney and Mike Lofgren that “[t]he reality is more banal, but at once more frightening and dangerous.”


    If I may, here are three ancillary questions for you and your correspondents to consider:

    a) Did you observe any such phenomena during your stint in the Senate in the sense that Republicans held the WH from 1968-1992 but for the four tumultuous years of Carter…. or was it a factor in 1993 when the Clinton administration took office?

    b) Did the growth of K-Street (and the cost of working in DC…) concretely trigger a greater tendency of civil servants to leave public service sooner than had been the case in the past? In other words, are turnover rates – both qualitative, quantitative, and temporal – the product of personal economics as much as being driven by ideology?

    c) The “Iron Triangle” and revolving doors notwithstanding, is the uniformed military the last bastion of unabridged “civic” service? … and should we find very limited solace in the positions held by Mattis and McMaster between the Trump entourage and the Pentagon?

    It sometimes seems, in fact, that election to the House and even the Senate are now but steps up the ladder rather than the pinnacles that they had once been…

  2. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    “If this kind of stuff continues for four years, we are going to have to build a lot more homes for the mentally ill. The question is: who will be on the inside and who will be on the outside?”

    I, for one, will gladly volunteer to be on the inside. It will be a lot more sane and quiet than on the outside with what is going on in our government currently, especially if it continues for four years.

  3. Chris R. Says:

    Senator, to begin with, I believe that you are conflating two things. The Administrative State and the Deep State are not the same thing. The Administrative State is the result of the legislature deferring to enact laws clearly, which results in the executive branch, and the courts (acting without juries) making the law through their own interpretation, and then executing those same laws. The result is resembles governance by the imperial bureaucracies of pre-WWI Europe. The Deep State is something more sinister. It is the government by rogue elements of the bureaucracy seeking to subvert control of the government by the President and his cabinet.

    Has the Deep State been lying in wait all these years for Donald Trump? There was President Eisenhower warning of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. The his successor was assassinated, and a U.S.A.F. Col. Prouty called it an inside job to escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and change the President’s policy. There was also the botched hostage rescue mission and the 1980 October Surprise first announced by former N.S.A. Gary Sick, which was later confirmed by prominent Iranians, and Soviet intelligence reports released by Russia in 1993:

    Donald Trump would not be the first presidential candidate known to have been surveilled. J. Edgar Hoover admitted that Johnson had ordered Nixon’s campaign plane bugged in 1968. Nor would Trump be the first to claim publicly that he had been surveilled. Twenty years after Nixon, another candidate made that claim, although he claimed not to know who was responsible. I would refer the Senator back to his own opinion about the need to control out of control surveillance:

    “Is the Surveillance State — the intelligence-industrial complex — out of the control of the elected officials responsible for holding it accountable to American citizens protected by the U.S. Constitution?

    We should not have to rely on whistle-blowers to protect our rights.

    Someone or someones must be empowered by the White House and Congress to take an Olympian view of the intelligence-industrial complex, to downsize it, reorganizing it, provide strict rules for its conduct and operations, and eliminate the metastasizing private consulting world now overwhelming it.”

    To that, I can only say, Amen. To quote George Washington, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

  4. Edward Goldstick Says:

    Senator Hart,

    Apologies for the term “adequate”, because “adequately damning” was what I actually had in mind…

  5. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    I will still hold that this nation is governed by Our Consent. What principles guide this consent is the question I would ask myself. The founders of this republic held to principles of governance that I have chosen to make my own and use as my standard when evaluating the appearance of something ‘new’. To be a citizen of a republic, in my view, is to accept and bear responsibility for everything it does and does not do. If we abrogate this responsibility we cease to be a republic and become ‘something else’. If we embrace the responsibility we may find we do everything necessary to make sure our choices are informed and morally just in a spontaneous and unforced manner.

    The ‘Deep State’ is a self deception in my view. The better we truly know ourselves the less we will be subject to the machinations of what we choose to hide from ourselves.

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