Thank God for the Deep State. If there weren’t one, we would have to take President Biden’s various assertions — including his on-camera speculation about an imminent “minor incursion” into Ukraine by Russia — at face value. White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quick to come out and “clarify” the president’s rambling, which sounded an awful lot like a green light for Russian tanks to roll.

Like many Americans, the Russians don’t take Biden literally. We like you Republicans, a Russian official once told me, because you generally say what you’re going to do and vice-versa.  But with the Democrats, he complained, it’s almost always the opposite.

Trump had his own Deep State support. Sure, James Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper and various minions still loyal to them were working behind the scenes to, as fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok put it in self-aggrandizing terms to his girlfriend, “stop him” from implementing his agenda. But Trump’s own White House counsel managed, like Hercules in the Augean stables, to stop him from obstructing justice.

So there are emergency brakes out there, for those who worry more than they should. The bigger picture good news is that the Democrats finally seem to realize that they have a problem. I say this not as partisan or counter-partisan, but simply as a guy who sees a little balance as a good thing.

Despite having control of the executive and both houses of Congress, the Democrats aren’t winning much right now. The president’s epic, two-hour press conference managed to distract from the defeat of his voting rights reform legislation, for which the White House made zero effort to reach out to moderate Republicans.

The wet-behind-the-ears Sen. Jon Ossoff called out Susan Collins on the Senate floor for not backing the plan. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to call her up beforehand and try to win her support? Instead of trying to sell the plan, as Vice President Kamala Harris had been tasked with doing, the Democrats’ argument in support of the bill that would have federalized elections (a horrible idea, imho) boiled down to “we need this because Republicans are racist.”

That didn’t work. In fact, most of the “messaging” is falling flat. It isn’t a communications problem, as the unimaginative Svengalis down in D.C. insist. It’s a policy problem. Americans are worried about rising prices, the impact of a seemingly endless COVID crisis on how we educate our children, the economy in general and dysfunctional governance (according to Gallup).

The toe-curling, split screen video statement on Friday in which Biden declared “I love you” to Harris, adding “you always have my back” only happened because the White House realizes it has a problem of perceptions, generally speaking. The two-hour press conference may have dispelled some concerns about the president’s mental fitness (he’s low-energy, boring and often out-of-touch but not senile).  Still, it did little to address frustrations about his incoherence.

But they’re trying, and that is progress. As Donald Rumsfeld once said, you go to war not with the army you want but the army you’ve got. The same could be said today about our current stock of politicians. Can the folks behind the curtain at least make their principles a little more in-touch? I had to look up who was Bull Connor (a southern segregationist in the ’60s), but doubt most Americans bothered.

The upcoming State of the Union will their next chance to engage us about stuff that matters — to us, not them. For their sake, let’s hope last week served as a wake-up call. It would not be a good moment for more talk about over-performing. But it could be a chance to show they’ve got it. Assuming it’s still on, that is.

In drafting the right speech, the Deep State has its work cut out for it.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.