On Twitter, pundits discuss the ultimate logic of the Trump Problem:
By the way, the “Murder in the Cathedral” in Canterbury in 1170 of Archbishop Thomas Becket is perhaps the classic example of the Deep State vs. Peak State dichotomy I identified in considering who was behind Pakistan hosting Osama bin Laden.
… Becket continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church, the news of which also reached [King] Henry II.
Upon hearing reports of Becket’s actions, Henry is said to have uttered words that were interpreted by his men as wishing Becket killed. The king’s exact words are in doubt and several versions have been reported. The most commonly quoted, as handed down by oral tradition, is “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”, but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” Many variations have found their way into popular culture.
Whatever Henry said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four knights, Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton, set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Deep State theory is that the official ranks of government often don’t coincide with real power: there are shadowy old-timers from the security services around who exert power as well. So if Osama bin Laden started living a mile from the Pakistani military academy in 2005, it may have just been with the permission of lower level members of the Pakistani Deep State, rather than upon the decision of military dictator/President Pervez Musharraf.
In the Deep State interpretation of the assassination of Becket, “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?” wasn’t an order, it was just a cry of temporary frustration by King Henry II that gets overly literally interpreted by the four knights. (I haven’t read T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” since college, but I vaguely recall the play leaning toward the Deep State view, although Eliot’s very talky play airs just about every conceivable angle.)
My Peak State variant on the Deep State theory is, well, sure, that can happen, but a lot of the time the guy who spent his life clawing his way to the top of the official hierarchy of power didn’t do it just to let a bunch of lower level tough guys call the shots about who lives and who dies. The power behind the throne often turns out to be the guy on the throne.
In the 1964 movie Becket in the video above, King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) appears to be engaging in Peak State behavior.
On the other hand, there really are cases of political violence that stem not from the order of the Top Guy but from the climate of opinion. For example, in 2002 the Dutch candidate for prime minister on an immigration restrictionist platform, Pim Fortuyn, was assassinated by a leftist legal worker, Volkert van der Graaf, the day after the French election in which Chirac defeated Le Pen 84-16.
The preceding two weeks had seen a frenzy of “responsible” figures across Europe denouncing the danger imposed by immigration restrictionist politicians, so it was hardly surprising when Fortuyn was murdered the next day. Initial reaction from many respectable newspapers and politicians was that the dead man had it coming. The explanation later morphed into claiming that the well-educated assassin was some kind of animal rights nut, but at his trial the murderer calmly listed his priorities behind his violence: protecting Muslim migrants was number one.