One of the things that struck me when I read Whittaker Chamber’s book Witness, was the point he made about his thinking, before and after his conversion from communism. He said he still thought like a Marxist. That is, the mental processes were still the same, despite his efforts being aim at combating Marxism. David Horowitz made a similar point about his own conversion. The way in which he thought, his rhetorical inclinations, they remained radical, but in service to the goal of stopping radicalism.
The man of the Left is one who puts everything into service of the cause. The morality of the Left is that the ends justify the means. The mere existence of the Clinton Crime Family is a testament to the utility of this ethos. There was no rule Progressives could champion that the Clintons would not violate. In fact, it has often seemed like the Clintons exist merely to make hypocrites of everyone who supported them. Yet, through it all, after every indignity, the Left finds some way to twist the truth to support them.
That’s the Progressive mind. The cause comes ahead of everything. When Barak Obama won in 2008, he could have demanded a human sacrifice at his inauguration, and the Left not only would have supported it, they would have claimed only racists opposed human sacrifice. We are seeing the same thing play out with the neocons, who have made their loony “NeverTrump” cause into something close to a cult. Every event is spun into some weird conspiracy or bizarre outrage. Hating Trump is their reason to exist.
Jonah Goldberg has been a particularly oleaginous Trump hater. Back in the primary, his game was to play the guilt by association gag on the NRO blog. For instance, when NeverTrump loons claimed David Duke was a Trumper, Goldberg made the claim that Trump’s dismissal of it was proof he was in the KKK. It’s the oldest Leftist ploy. One Prog lies and the other swears to it. That’s because the Progressive mind sees no clear line between the truth and a lie. One is as good as the other, as long as it furthers the cause.
You see that with this post from Jonah Goldberg at National Review. Ostensibly it is a post about sexual misconduct. In reality, it is a game of moral equivalence so he can denounce Roy Moore, a proxy for Trump.
Whenever popular passion swamps politics, true-believing zealots and opportunistic demagogues will exploit that passion. The zealots will overreach. The demagogues will demagogue — using a good cause to destroy political enemies and defend unworthy allies. Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is credibly accused by nine women of preying on teenagers, one as young as 14. Harvey Weinstein is credibly accused by at least 50 women of a long list of offenses, including rape. Democratic senator Al Franken has been accused by two women of inappropriate advances or groping.
Notice the slight of hand. Calling the Moore accusers credible is what people in the business call a lie. The best you can say about some of them is they are not obviously insane. The worst you can say about Moore, is he wanted a young wife forty years ago when he was still a relatively young man. Franken and Weinstein, in contrast, are admitted degenerates. There is a mountain of corroborating evidence to support the claims against them. Goldberg knows this, but he lies anyway, because that serves the cause.
That’s the thing to keep in mind with the neocons. Neoconservatism was never a right-wing phenomenon. It was a Progressive heresy, and only a very narrow one. Their dispute with the Progressives was never over ideology. It was over tactics. The neocons wanted to aggressively wage jihad against the Soviets. After the Cold War, they wanted to use the American Empire to make the world safe for global Jewry. Otherwise, they were perfectly fine with the Progressive social project, as long is it did not harm the war effort.
This circles back to the way Chambers and Horowitz described their thinking after they came out of the darkness. The neocons may have, out of necessity, aligned with conservatives to achieve certain goals, but they were always men of the Left. As such, they think like men of the Left. That old habit of the ends justifying the means is still central to who they are. It’s why a Bill Kristol can manipulate his son-in-law into conspiring with foreign agents in the Never Trump conspiracy. Anything for the cause.
The funny thing about this is many neocons over the years have made this argument about Progressives. Jonah Goldberg was fond of pointing out that the Left was an ends justifies the means ideology, while the Right was a means justifies the end ideology. That was just another lie to further the cause. When the game is to trade away the culture for a free hand in foreign affairs, they needed a way to explain away their failure to conserve anything on the domestic front. Principled failure was the answer.
The truth is, conservatism is the rejection of ideology, and therefore a rejection of both sides of the neocon coin. Roy Moore, like Donald Trump, is no one on the Right’s idea of the perfect candidate. There is no such thing. Moore serves a purpose, faults and all, that no other candidate serves. He’ll vote the right way on the important issues. The same is true of Trump. He can be vexing, but he has a knack for finding the best answer when it matters the most. That’s conservatism. Muddling through from one thing to the next.
Jonah Goldberg can never understand that.