After Attorney General Barr’s Justice Dept. recommended dropping General Flynn’s “perjury trap” case May 7, a slew of names came back to at least some news and commentary: Obama, Clapper, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Rice, Power, Brennan et al. (The cast of characters for a film Hollywood won’t make being a long one.)

Before that announcement and then Judge Sullivan’s legal foot-dragging, I’d wondered what happened to the hydra-headed creature we call the “Deep State.” How could things have changed so dramatically that the term rapidly became “out?” The short answer of course was novel coronavirus, quickly overshadowing all else on our front pages and newscasts.

During the pandemic’s onslaught in this country, many might have felt that certain government agencies and departments in D.C. were now more peaceful, aided by social distancing, working at home and the rest. And less prone thereby to underhanded demarches wrought by this or that “resistant.”

Maybe the Strzok and Page types were taking a kind of break during these trying days and weeks of our Covid crisis? Maybe slick Schiff was also on a kind of sabbatical from prepping, then hiding whistleblowers?

But the realists, including Trump himself, were probably never sure that “the Deep State” had ended its ways. And of course beyond or beneath flood lights focused on Covid, Barr and John Durham were still patiently probing other past irregularities, quite a number!

Yet most during the pandemic probably felt that all that was bygone news, and basically resolved. No more important than harmless remnants of snow flying about like gnats during the cold swaths of April (and May) we experienced this year.

Sure it would have been wonderful if such problems had indeed been conclusively dealt with; but in fact, they never were. For a time, the “Deep State” just got off the current charts, and news. How much did you hear about FISA courts during the mass shutdown of the country? Or of the Ukraine?

What of a name that was once front and center, Bob Mueller? Was he now consigned to the trash bin of history, too? Turns out he wasn’t! The Flynn matter (cum House Intel release of interviews on the Russia probe) brought him and cohorts decidedly back.

So there will probably be new books on the subject after all. Plus those of contrarian progressives, declaring that the “Deep State” was always just a myth, and still is.

But even with more books coming out on all that, let’s face it: pretty well everything relating to politics will now have to include this coronavirus disaster of such gargantuan impact. That’s the new norm for those wishing to be cutting edge, and desiring platforms in the media.

The term “Deep State” has definite competition from hotter new buzz words (or phrases), like flattening the curve, mitigation, and above-mentioned social distancing. “Unmasking” of Flynn et al.? Now replaced by literal masking, and lots of it! Both America and its Fourth Estate like to move to the next necessary thing, the newest and most compelling, don’t they? On the whole, memories seem distressingly short, never mind for the long human past, but even for the last few years or so. For instance, ISIS was once a grave concern, and now you hear comparatively little about that horrid group, not to mention Al-Qaeda, which preceded it in post-9/11 importance, and tragically so.

More books re the Deep State’s impact on Trump associates and on the president himself? Now they’d have to elbow their way onto bestseller tables (when bookstores are fully back), because there will surely be ones on or by nurses, doctors, sanitation personnel, etc., bravely working during the virus’ awful apex. And marketable ones…

All this somehow reminds me of the surprising fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and of the Soviet empire, which few could have predicted even in ‘87. And suddenly? Marxist-Leninist tomes that had once crowded bookshelves in Communist East Germany or Poland were gone, replaced as big sellers by previously verboten ones on the virtues of American-style capitalism!

Nothing lasts, right? Not even that once ubiquitous term “deep state?” But buyer beware, because this humble observer feels it still exists – and remains a problem. And I’m not alone ...

 

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges including Niagara University.

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