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Friday, March 17, 2017

Yes, There Is a Deep State—But Not the Right Wing’s Caricature

March 17th, 2017 |

Yes, There Is a Deep State—But Not the Right Wing’s Caricature

by Mike Lofgren
The heated controversy over the right wing’s characterization of Donald Trump’s chronic conflict with the U.S. intelligence community as the machinations of “the Deep State” has inevitably generated political pushback from more establishmentarian figures. Paul Pillar on this site and David Remnick in The New Yorker have dismissed the whole notion of the American Deep State as a figment of the right’s overheated imagination. The U.S. government, operating as it does within the framework of American society, simply doesn’t work that way.
It is understandable that persons with some actual knowledge of current events and the workings of government would be exasperated by the feverish outpourings of, or Fox News’s Andrew (“Judge”) Napolitano, who depict Trump and his recently fired national security adviser, General Mike Flynn, as poor, innocent snowflakes beset by the remorseless conspiracies of a shadow government. (The Trump administration even had to issue a rare apology to the British government when press secretary Sean Spicer repeated Napolitano’s false allegation that the United Kingdom’s intelligence service spied on Trump).
As I have explained elsewhere, a far simpler explanation is that Flynn’s own malfeasance and dishonesty (including misleading the vice president, who then looked foolish defending Flynn on national TV) led to the general’s dismissal, as the administration itself announced at the time of his departure. It was only ex post facto that the Trump White House, with its addiction to bad-faith rationales, began pouring conspiratorial nutrients into the fever swamps of the paranoid right.
That Donald Trump’s problems are of his own making—meaning that they are the result of his own serial lying and the incompetence of his inner circle—is an obvious truth. Just as clearly, he is at loggerheads with elements of the intelligence community mainly because his fragile ego cannot accept their assessment that the Russian government might have been involved in hacking his opponent during the campaign. Pillar, Remnick, and others are right to harp on these matters, and I agree with them. But they overshoot the mark in saying there is no such thing as the Deep State in America. Their belief arises from the erroneous notion that such constructs must be conscious conspiracies, and that they must be sinister.

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