"I thought things were partisan and tough 30 years ago – nothing compared to today, things have fundamentally changed," Barr said.
MARK LEVIN: I was a chief of staff to an Attorney General, Edwin Meese. We had some very difficult hearings from time to time – I have never seen anything like this before.
Obviously it was coordinated. The goal was to have you up there and to try and treat you like a pinata – absolutely disrespectful.
What were you thinking while that was going on, and what do you make of this? You’ve been attorney general twice now.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: I think they were afraid to have me speak, and so they decided to burn up all the time and not give me any time to answer. So I quickly caught onto the tactic.
LEVIN: And what do you make of the change of the whole nature of hearings now? I mean, they accused you of being a murderer, a terrorist – I was getting nervous that somebody might grab a Molotov cocktail from behind the table and throw it at you.
What do you make of this?
BARR: You know, I have the perspective of having been attorney general 30 years ago and now. And I thought things were partisan and tough 30 years ago – nothing compared to today, things have fundamentally changed.
And I think what has happened, and I’ve been thinking about this, because in the old days, you could have friends across the aisle. Politics was part of your life, but it wasn’t all consuming, it wasn’t everything. You could have communications and so forth with others.
But it’s now become all consuming for many people. And I think what’s happened is, that the left wing has really withdrawn and pulled away from the umbrella of classical liberal values that have undergirded our society since our founding.
And within the family, we’ve had two ways of resolving disputes. One is discussion, the dialectic, the marketplace of ideas, trying to arrive at the truth. We had an idea that there was some truth to arrive at. And then, if we couldn’t reach agreement, a vote – and that’s how we operated.
Nowadays, you have – I think the left has essentially withdrawn from this model, and really represents a Rousseauian, revolutionary party that believes in tearing down the system.
That, what’s wrong about America today all has to do with the institutions we have, and we have to tear them down. And they’re interested in complete political victory, they’re not interested in compromise, they’re not interested in dialectic exchange of views.
They’re interested in total victory. And that’s – it’s a secular religion. It’s a substitute for a religion. They view their political opponents, and they – you know, as evil – that because we stand in the way of their progressive utopia that they’re trying to reach.
And that’s what gives the intensity to the partisan feelings that people feel today, because for them, this pilgrimage that we’re all on is a political pilgrimage. Everything is reduced to politics.
For people who don’t have that perspective politics is important, but it’s not the whole purpose of life.
LEVIN: Do you think this sort of Rousseauian ideology, or Hegelianism, that ballpark, do you think it has devoured the Democrat Party in the last couple of years now? And does that explain why, during this hearing and in other opportunities, they will not condemn the violence? They will not condemn Antifa.
Ted Cruz had a hearing the other day, one of the Democrat senators would not condemn Antifa. Do you think that’s part of it?
BARR: Absolutely. I said during my hearing, can any of you just come out and say it’s not OK to burn to down federal courthouses? I mean, they talk about the rule of law, they talk about the importance of the federal legal system, the protection of civil rights.
Well, the heart of that is our court system, and they’re not willing – not one of them piped up to say, no, it’s not OK to be burning down federal courts.
Why? Some of them are true believers, some of them are essentially revolutionary in their outlook. They believe in tearing down the system. But many of them are just cowards who are mostly interested in getting reelected and are afraid about a challenge from the left.
So for them it’s careerism. I sort of like my current gig, and I’ll do anything to stay here, and I won’t stand up for what is right, I won’t stand up for the country, I won’t stand up for our institutions.