By Dr. Larry Fedewa
(November 16,2019) The much-publicized hearings of the House Intelligence Committee began last Wednesday with three high ranking State Department officials over two days. The hearings revealed two things: 1) how deep the “Deep State” goes, and 2) how shallow the Democrats’ case against President Donald Trump really is.
The Deep State
There are thousands of honest, hard-working people in the federal bureaucracy, who toil conscientiously every day to do the jobs they have been assigned. Among them are the first three witnesses called by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) to lead off the public testimony phase of his impeachment inquiry.
Their testimony demonstrated just how deep the “Deep State” goes by revealing its characteristics. These people are sincerely dedicated to what they perceive as the official policies of the United States government. The fact that the policy they are dedicated to has been crafted by the senior career officers of their department is simply beyond their grasp. They believe and earnestly defend the un-Constitutional premise that foreign policy should be non-political and that all key decisions and staff should reflect an ongoing strategy and practice which transcends the comings and goings of politicians.
Unfortunately, this understanding is directly contrary to the Constitution which they have sworn to uphold. The Constitution clearly delegates the responsibility and the authority to set and implement American foreign policy to the President of the United States with oversight by the Congress.
The reason for this provision of the Constitution is clearly to assure that all such matters are handled by individuals who are responsible to the people through the electoral process. It is opposed precisely to allowing the affairs of state to be left in the hands of unelected, long-term, career bureaucrats. But this is exactly what has happened.
The federal bureaucracy was placed under the control of the President for many reasons, one of which was that the President is there every day and the framers thought the Congress would remain in session only on a part-time basis. However, the bureaucracy has grown so large that it has become impossible for any one person to actually manage. The old adage, “longevity rules” is the answer to why federal departments have taken over many of the functions not only of management but also of policy.
And what is true of the State Department is equally true of most of the other governmental units, including Defense, Agriculture, Justice and Commerce. This fact is also the reason why the Deep State has been against Trump from even before he was elected. He campaigned as a transformative figure, out “to drain the swamp”. He was thinking primarily of the career politicians, many of whom come to Washington with little money and leave many years later as millionaires (such as Joseph Biden and Bernie Sanders among others).
But that left the Deep State leaders right in the middle between the new policy makers and the implementors. And nearly every facet of Trump’s agenda – deregulation of the economy, immigration, lowering taxes, foreign policy, increasing military readiness, stopping endless wars, promoting school choice, and on and on – violated some bureaucratic dogma. He promised change and they believed him – with good reason as it turns out.
What we saw this week was a sharply drawn portrait of the Deep State. These witnesses are the worker bees of the bureaucracy, the people who do the actual work. They are not decision-makers, nor are they privy to the highest circles in government. Not one of them, for example, has ever met President Trump in person, but they are convinced he should be impeached because he is perceived as initiating dramatic changes in foreign policy. And those changes go against what they have been taught is the good of the United States by three generations of America’s Cold War largesse – which President Trump is reversing.
Not that Trump hasn’t made some mistakes. Most seem to be attributable to his lack of understanding and respect for the sensibilities of the career foreign service. Had he ne “campaigned” among them as he has among the voters to sell them on his reforms in advance of implementing them and explained to these witnesses in some detail what he intended to do and why, he might well have converted them. They are sincerely dedicated to carrying out their duties.
But Donald Trump is not used to “selling his plans” to his employees. His business practice has always been to hold his cards close to his vest and keep people guessing what his next move is going to be. He has made no secret of his positions on nearly every issue during his campaign, and he thought that was enough. But people in Washington don’t believe what politicians tell them during campaigns. Most of their promises never see the light of day. Not so for Mr. Trump. Once his intention is said out loud, he considers it a commitment. And a businessman must live by results; talk is cheap.
It is not surprising, then, that the ambassadors resisted the Trump approach. It was never explained to them, and they saw his unorthodox moves as against America’s best interests. When the Dems’ narrative surfaced – carried to the public by the cooperative press – they were ready believers. As such, they came to be seen by Trump as enemies. Trump’s “enemies” are shown no mercy. One could hope that President Trump, after seeing some of this week’s testimony, would see beneath the words and change his mind. But don’t count on it!
No evidence for the Dems’ case
The second take-away from these hearings is proof of how weak the Dems’ case against the President really is. I agree that he should not have attacked these people personally. He may also have been careless with his language and perhaps too aggressive in his responses to the entire situation.
But the sad tales of woe by two employees who got demoted, however distasteful, are completely irrelevant to any charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors”. He acted within his authority as President in changing ambassadors and in his conversations with another head of state.
He made some errors of judgement, perhaps, more in his defensive actions than in the original series of incidents. But these witnesses provided not “one scintilla of evidence” (as President Obama’s said in the famous Bill O’Reilly interview on Bengazi) that any high crime, or any crime at all, has been committed by a President they have never even met.
All in all, this entire incident is a shabby way to try to win an election.
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