For years now I've argued here that in several important respects it doesn't matter whom we elect president. Politicians come and go and with them their appointees, but the Deep State bureaucrats remain entrenched. And while there's something scary and undemocratic about that, it's also stabilizing and perhaps a cause for optimism in destabilizing times like these. Now that Trump seems determined to lock horns with the CIA, it will be interesting to see who prevails and to what degree, if at all, the strength of the Deep State plays a constraining role in the Trump presidency.
This business about the Russian dossier might be a test case. It could be that Trump and the Right-wing cult, aka the GOP, have managed to erode American political norms and conventions so significantly that no matter how egregious, it doesn't matter what we find out about Trump's business or personal behavior. The guy is utterly shameless, and it doesn't seem to bother the GOP establishment. If anything it will probably embolden new levels of shamelessness in those who belong to it.
It's clear that the so-called conservative movement hasn't been interested in conserving anything that true conservatives care about--like norms, traditions, ethical practices--that have proved themselves valuable over time. Cheney famously said that Reagan proved that deficits don't matter, and racking up huge deficits became the new 'conservative' norm. Now Trump is proving that venality, sexual assault, and blatant lying don't matter either, especially to conservatives. He can do or say anything, and so can anybody else, so long as they are movement conservatives in good standing, and if they are shameless enough to shrug it off and stick it out.
And so therefore since Americans in their infinite wisdom in addition to having elected this shameless, deeply foolish man to the presidency, have given him majorities in both houses, we have every reason to assume that Congress will abrogate its oversight responsibilities and do everything it can to protect Trump. For them it's no about doing the right thing. Not even remotely. The calculus is always about what increases their power and control. Rightists never care about traditions and norms; they care only about Power.
And so it will be interesting to see if there are significant conflicts of Power within the D.C. establishment, and whether the Deep State might actually be a player that will push back against the Right. I guess it depends on how many people in the Deep State are themselves Rightists. I expect little from the Democrats. Maybe some new leaders will emerge, but Chuck Shumer and the other Dems who elected him and Pelosi minority leaders really don't get it.
But Trump's taking on the intelligence community within the Deep State? That could be a whole other kettle of fish. And this business of Trump with the Russians looks like it isn't going to go away. It might be something he'll just be able to shrug off as politically motivated mudslinging, but maybe not. Maybe there's something more going on here. And if there is and the Deep State types are not going to let it slide, then what?
Trump is a walking, tweeting constitutional crisis waiting to happen. I find that despite myself, and perhaps against my better judgment, I'm rooting for the Deep State. I know--be careful what you wish for. I am quite aware that I haven't a clue which, the Deep State or Trumpism, is the greater evil. But that's where we are. Perhaps the best scenario is that they neutralize one another and hope that the country comes to its senses in the next four years, and that some compellingly sane alternative to all this insanity emerges.