The better political cartoonists are, by intellectual nature, dark satirists. Nothing provokes biting wit like the patent corruption of a Nixon administration, or the astounding nakedness of Bush Jr.'s rank mismanagement, or the snarling, multifaceted hostilities of the Trump regime. As modern Republicanism descends ever farther into the Dantean abyss of uncharted circles of ignominy, political cartoonists ascend to ever greater heights of hilarious gloom. It's the only redeeming compensation for having complete nincompoops in high office.
The Washington Post's Tom Toles is one such luminary of artistic satire, and he comes with the added benefit of entertaining prose as well. Today he comments on the Trump administration's rhetorical corruption of the term "deep state." Given that Trump's party now controls the House, the Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court, virtually all the levers of national power:
There was nobody left to blame! There must be some culprits somewhere. All that remained were some civil servants and the media. Pause for a three-count. Voila! The enemy! All they needed was a name! Deep state!
Which is — appropriately — conspiratorially Bannonesque. But, notes Toles, "that’s not really what 'deep state' has meant historically, or what it actually is in the United States."
"Deep state" is a term that has meant a military-civilian power base in authoritarian countries that works against democracy. In the U.S. context, that could more accurately describe an alliance between the actually powerful military-industrial complex and Trump Incorporated.
And once again, the Trump administration turns terminology and facts on their heads. War is peace, freedom is slavery, and your ignorance, above all, is their strength.
Toles' written conclusion is, of course, more straightforward than satirical. In fact it offers no subtlety whatsoever, and swan dives headlong into the regrettable truth. But in its darkness there is light — if only the ignorant would choose to open their eyes. And therein lies the central challenge of these godawful Trump years: How to best assist the willfully blind.