ANALYSIS: TRUE. Mackubin Owens: President can’t ‘subvert’ foreign policy.
President Trump and his defenders have long railed against the “deep state,” a name they apply to the entrenched federal bureaucracy working from within to bring down his administration. Of course, the president’s critics mocked the idea of a deep state as a right-wing conspiracy theory. I personally have never been a fan of the term, preferring “administrative state” to describe what I believe is the fourth, unconstitutional “branch” of government to which Congress has delegated its legislative powers.
But a strange thing has happened: lately the president’s critics have decided that not only does the deep state exist, but that it is a good thing! They praise an alleged “whistleblower,” a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, and the various ambassadors and deputy secretaries of state who have testified before Congress, expressing their concerns about President Trump’s handling of Ukraine as “heroes” and “patriots” who “understand their oath.”
But it is the press that has truly seen the light. Michelle Cottle, a member of the New York Times editorial board, opined about the denizens of the deep state that “They Are Not the Resistance. They Are Not a Cabal. They Are Public Servants. Let us now praise these not-silent heroes.” . . .
There’s a major problem with this argument. It ignores Article II of the Constitution, which grants to the president, in conjunction with Congress — not unelected bureaucrats — the power to make U.S. foreign policy. Unelected bureaucrats do not have a right to undermine the policy of a duly elected president, simply because they disagree with it. But the denizens of the deep state think they do.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is a perfect example of this mindset. He complained that “he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy.” Read that again. The problem here is that the Constitution grants to the president, in conjunction with Congress, the power to make U.S. foreign policy, giving him broad authority to conduct foreign affairs and negotiate with leaders of other nations. It does not grant any such power to unelected bureaucrats to undermine the president’s foreign policy — even when they are “deeply troubled” by it.
Last month, I wrote a column on the “perils of praetorianism,” the belief that military officers should form a phalanx around the duly elected president “for the good of the country.” The fact is, the deep state is praetorianism on steroids.
Is it a good idea for us to normalize the view that unelected bureaucrats are the protectors of republican government? If so, we shift power from voters to the deep state, a concept at war with the very idea of republican government.