Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Newt, Master of the Evil Tongue

In the ethics of the Jewish sages, the "evil tongue," lashon hara in Hebrew, is condemned as a common but particularly heinous sin. The sages said that the evil tongue is more destructive than an arrow, because it can be let loose in Rome and kill in Syria. The great medieval sage, Maimonides, had a special category of person he condemned particularly harshly, the "master of the evil tongue," ba'al lashon hara in Hebrew.

Newt Gingrich is probably the most influential and destructive master of the evil tongue in our time. As Dana Milbank reminded us recently in the Washington Post, Newt way back in 1978 wrote “one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty.” He then has worked his whole career to correct that "problem" by devoting much effort to creative name-calling and character assassination. In an infamous memo, he advocated calling the opposition: “anti,” “betray,” “bizarre,” “corrupt,” “destructive,” “disgrace,” “shame,” “lie,” “pathetic,” “radical,” “self-serving,” “selfish,” “shallow,” “shame,” “sick,” “traitors.”

Newt is a guy who stayed up nights thinking of names to call people. A true master of the evil tongue. Sarah Palin recently gave Newt a run for his money as a mistress of the evil tongue, rising to new heights by combining a beautiful face and malicious speech in a way outdoing the movie "Mean Girls." But for a lasting impact, no one has outdone Newt.

Now we have the delicious sight of the master of the evil tongue being slaughtered by millions spent on calling him names, and succeeding in tearing him down. Perhaps it's bad form to rejoice, but it certainly couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

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