Lately political analysis in the United States seems closer to Cold War-era Kremlinology. Small hints of what is really happening must be divined from the unintentional slips and innocuous gestures of officials. The reality of governance is concealed by a cloak of normality, procedural regularity, and legality.
This is to be expected within party politics, where things are resolved with deals among party insiders, i.e., the proverbial “smoke filled rooms.” This is why Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar rather suddenly dropped out to make way for Joe Biden in 2020, after it appeared the divided field could end up with Bernie Sanders as the nominee.
But this approach - secret groups secretly deciding how to control events - is not supposed to dominate ordinary governance.
The Deep State Revealed Itself Under Trump
Donald Trump faced harassment from the Intelligence Community and other unelected parts of government throughout his term as president. Delaying the provision of funds Congress appropriated for Ukraine—something well within his authority as president—formed the basis of the first impeachment. A crew of insiders and bureaucrats waxed eloquent about their sacred “interagency consensus,” but the Congress and the American people were not buying it. Americans still think elections are supposed to matter.
In spite of his manifest unpopularity and refusal even to campaign, Biden was installed as president in 2020. Having rarely met an actual Biden supporter, Trump voters were skeptical and angry. The extended recounts, unceremonious dismissal of legal challenges, and videos of disappearing ballots, along with strident denunciations of “election deniers,” did not reassure anyone. Later revelations showed the coordinated way government officials, the media, NGOs, billionaires, and others conspired to “fortify” the 2020 election.
Biden governed as he ran: mostly hidden from the public, beholden to donors and party elders, doing as little as possible. This seemed acceptable for a while, since it allowed the various constituent parts of the government to do what they wanted with little interference. Everyone knows Biden’s never been that sharp and seems more decrepit than ever, that his vice president is even dumber than he is, and that he’s not really running anything.
But this is all a feature, not a bug, for the cabal that brought him to office. For them, the more independence they have from oversight, the better.
Biden Has Enemies
Lately, it seems there’s a disturbance in the force. Biden and his allies have continued their vendetta against Trump, exposing his tax returns and raiding his home for possessing documents he supposedly owed the National Archives. This did not go over as well as Attorney General (and all-around hack) Merrick Garland anticipated, and it seems Garland and the January 6 Committee have each decided to scale back their demands.
This is why the recent exposure of top secret documents in Biden’s old office, his garage, and a mysterious third location suggests something is afoot. We went from a Monday disclosure to a special counsel being appointed on Thursday. Nothing like this happens this quickly unless it is by design.
There are, of course, ways to deal with this situation that do not involve public exposure. Couldn’t Biden or his staff order some FBI agents or White House people to pick them up and take them to wherever they’re supposed to be stored?
It’s in the news because somehow his lawyers found the documents and reported them before the story could go through White House channels. And, lawyers being lawyers, they followed the street-lawyer rule that if someone has to go to jail, make sure it’s your client and not you. Concerned about individual culpability for obstruction or mishandling documents, they made this hot potato someone else’s problem as fast as possible.
Someone is responsible for the way this information came out, and that someone is an enemy of Biden. There are plenty of possibilities: some secret Republicans at the Justice Department, Kamala Harris and her people, a committee of Democratic Party insiders concerned about Dementia Joe being president for another four years. The whole thing has a whiff of a conspiracy, and, like the various allegations and pretexts employed to investigate Trump, it may very well originate in the intelligence community.
As Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) once said, “You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” In this instance, the hypothesis is not completely satisfying. Biden has not really taken on the intelligence community, so far as I can tell, unless they’re still smarting about how he ended the Afghanistan boondoggle.
Republicans Should Put Country Over Party
Republicans seem gleeful over the news. This is unsurprising. It’s the millionth example of rank hypocrisy from Democrats. But, judging by past results, pointing out such hypocrisy does not seem to get us anywhere. It may put a damper on Merrick Garland’s pursuit of Trump for his alleged violations of the Presidential Records Act, but this already seemed to have lost steam on its own.
Republican glee should be more restrained, as their excitement is akin to aristocrats in Revolutionary France cheering on Robespierre’s Terror when it turned on the revolutionaries themselves. Such a development makes things more dangerous for everyone, even if it sweeps up some of one’s enemies.
If the exposure of Biden’s apparent mishandling of classified documents arose from an intelligence community operation, it shows that the unelected deep state is beholden to neither Democrats nor Republicans. In other words, it will have revealed itself as a completely unaccountable branch of government, subject neither to Congress, the president, the judiciary, or any ideological faction.
This would be a profoundly un-American development, but it would not be a huge surprise. Instead of accepting the small fry of defeating an already unpopular, not-quite-elected president, Republicans should instead join forces with everyone of good will and focus on exposing and defanging the unelected portions of government, which mean to place themselves above every branch of government, as well as the American people themselves.