To truly understand the depthless awfulness of the just-posted “interview” that Slate’s Jacob Weisberg conducted with Rachel Maddow, one needs to turn to religion. Simply saying that Weisberg interviewing Maddow is like Tiger Beat interviewing Justin Bieber is just not enough anymore. It misses the bigger picture.
When Whittaker Chambers published “Witness,” his classic 1952 account of his time as a communist, many people, including a few conservatives, wondered why he talked so much about God in the book. To Chambers, communism had gained traction in the West because it offered what too many liberal democracies had lost: faith. Communism pointed to the future. When the world seemed to be collapsing into war and depression, communism provided a coherent, if comic book, version of history, complete with saints, sinners, and heaven.
That idea has never quite been shaken by the left. This is why liberals should never be trusted. Ask yourself this question: Suppose Obama is re-elected and he gets everything he wants. Suppose gay marriage is declared legal in every state, and limits on abortion banned. Suppose they pass universal health care. Suppose people are not allowed to cough without filing an environmental impact form. Suppose all those things happen. Do you really think the left will be satisfied? Or will they want more?
Of course they will want more. This is the evil blackness at the heart of liberalism. At its core, liberalism is utopian and godless, and therefore willing to lie, cheat, steal, and kill to fulfill its vision. It’s why liberals are never satisfied with creating a welfare state, but must always take the next step and begin abolishing religion and liquidating people who stand in their way. Admittedly, the left’s utopianism has changed a bit since the days of communism. These days it’s more about avenging personal resentment and public displays of therapy — Occupy Wall Street — than about any overarching certitude in dialectical materialism and the gears of history. But in the end it’s the same result: The people we don’t like, and their ideas, get disposed of. This is the ultimate goal.
When this worldview is fully understood and absorbed, the joke that is the Weisberg-Maddow make-out session can be fully comprehended. Again, go into it thinking of it not as politics, but catechism. The point of liberal “journalism” is not to get to the truth about anything, but to reinforce dogma.
Here is Weisberg’s first question to Maddow: “These Republican ideas that we’ve been living through, an unprecedented number of them. … you don’t hear a real conversation about ideas you, don’t hear a serious debate. What is that conversation about?” Maddow: “The conversation is about which one of them is a good person and a bad person, and who can come up with the snappiest one-liner blaming the Obama administration for anything that’s going on in the world.”
There are two different ways to approach this nonsense. The first is to puzzle over the sheer irrationality of it, the totalistic refusal to engage with facts. To wonder why, no matter how much Maddow and Weisberg dislike the right, they won’t at least concede that, as colorful as the Republican debates have been, they have also been about very big and important ideas. Ideas about, among other things: immigration, the deficit, the wars America is involved in, federalism, education, and the environment. You might think the answers given were dumb, but to simply claim that they were never even discussed is to relegate yourself to a place of impenetrable unreality. It’s to be as uncomprehending, and as sure of oneself, as a suicide bomber.
Conservatives should no longer be surprised by this. When someone on the right tries to reason through a liberal argument, it often leads to a lot of shouting and debate that goes nowhere. And it goes nowhere because conservatives, despite being very well-educated about liberal media bias, have not fully taken the next step. They have not completely understood that, more than a half-century after Whittaker Chambers and “Witness,” liberalism is still very much a faith. Understand that, and the Weisberg-Maddow clench makes tight sense. Remind yourself that liberals view conservatives as demons and believe that the left is on the side of the angels, and your irritation at Weisberg’s “interview” evaporates. Of course. He’s not conducting an interview, he’s genuflecting. These are not two journalists. These are two priests talking about the devil.
When you have fully absorbed that idea, nothing in liberalism will surprise you anymore. Consider another of Weisberg’s questions: How does Maddow challenge the left the way she does the right? There are incoherencies on the right, what about incoherence on the left?
Better to ask a snake handler about incoherencies in Christianity. There’s no need to anticipate with any sense of surprise what Maddow will say; simply ask yourself how such an answer would fit into the liberal Bible. Easy: the problem, as with any other, is the Great Satan of conservatism. Thus, the biggest left-wing inconsistency is, “How do you deal with a John Boehner?” It’s like the Westboro Baptist Church. Everything from gay marriage to nuclear war and cockroaches is the fault of the devil.
What is so sad and awful about this is that liberalism, like other extreme religious movements, tends to eradicate the human conscience. One of my favorite religious stories involves Cardinal Newman, one of the great converts to Catholicism. Cardinal Newman was once asked to offer a toast to the pope. He raised his glass and said, “To conscience first, the pope second.” Most people with an active conscience who are not religious fanatics have moments of self-reflection where they work through their philosophy and try and align it with what “the voice within” is telling them. It’s why I am a conservative who supports amnesty for immigrants. It’s why Christopher Hitchens was an atheist who opposed abortion. But to True Believers like Maddow and Weisberg, the conscience has no place. From the tragedy of abortion to the $15 trillion deficit, from the arguments against gay marriage to the smaller question of simply presenting the Republican candidates as people with ideas, there is no need to consult what St. Ambrose called “God’s herald and messenger” — the conscience. The Nation says it, I believe it, and that settles it. It’s why there are people in this world who still believe — not think, believe — that Alger Hiss was innocent.
The communist Ignazio Silone once noted that to become a communist was not simply to join a party. “It meant a conversion, a complete dedication. The Party became family, school, church, barracks; the world that lay beyond was to be destroyed and built anew.”
That’s what we’re up against. And it’s why Jacob Weisberg and Rachel Maddow are a joke. A dangerous joke.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.