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Harry Reid: Protesters “Evil-Mongers”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has termed those who show up at town hall meetings and speak their mind “evil-mongers.”

Reid coined the term in a speech to an energy conference in Las Vegas this week and repeated it in an interview with Politics Daily. Such “evil-mongers” are using “lies, innuendo and rumor,” to drown out rational debate, Reid said.

“It was an original with me,” Reid said of the term. “I maybe could have been less descriptive,” he said, adding that “I doubt you’ll hear it from me again.”

Nevertheless, Reid worked in the word one more time during the interview. “I feel I haven’t done anything to embarrass [my children],” Reid joked. “Except maybe call somebody an evil-monger.”

Now, I’ve dubbed shouting down others’ free speech un-American. Twice. But evil?  Really?

Stephen Green observes, “When President Bush called three of the most vile regimes on the planet an ‘axis of evil,’ the left sneered. Real evil, apparently, is to be found in ordinary Americans.”  Indeed.

This just isn’t how the people’s representatives should speak about the people.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Furhead says:

    Calling someone an “evil-monger” is not the same as calling them evil. Think of the analogy with “fear-monger”.

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  2. kvc says:

    So that means these people are promoting “evil” through their discourse?

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  3. hcantrall says:

    I just hope he keeps talking – Love the picture you chose Dr. Joyner.

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  4. PD Shaw says:

    Love that church-chat lady look, Harry.

    Furhead: fear and evil are not moral equivalents. Ask church chat lady.

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  5. odograph says:

    If it is willful catering to irrational fear, yeah, I think that qualifies.

    (In SoCal speech “evil” is actually thrown pretty loosely.)

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  6. Davebo says:

    If someone stands up in a town hall meeting and asks about those dreaded death panels can’t we just call them what they are?

    Deluded idiots?

    Or disingenuous trolls? (I’m looking at you Sarah)

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  7. Herb says:

    Harry Reid makes it very easy for a liberal like myself to remain unaffiliated with the Democratic party.

    But with that said, I find Stephen Green’s comment to be less than worthy of an “indeed.” “The left sneered?” Bad writing, for one (like…they all sneered in unison?), and a weak ad hominem cheapshot for another. So Harry Reid is not only a leftist…he is the left? Are there no “ordinary Americans” in this amorphous, over-generalized “left with a million sneering faces?”

    Ordinary Americans….bah. If Harry Reid did indeed say that ordinary Americans are evil-mongers, then yes…be pissed off. But he didn’t say that. He didn’t mean that. And though he is a leftist, Harry Reid’s impolitic words are no basis to slam “the left” any more than Stephen Green’s impolitic “Harry Reid can bite me” are a basis to slam the right.

    Right?

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  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    Or disingenuous trolls?

    lol…….

    I give you Senator Reid.

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  9. Michael says:

    If it is willful catering to irrational fear, yeah, I think that qualifies.

    How about fear-mongers? It’s a perfectly usable term that has a clear meaning and doesn’t make you sound like a pompous ass.

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  10. mpw280 says:

    Yeah he just needs the pink hair and he would be a great troll. Though I fail to see how opposing this is evil, unless not serving your overlord is considered evil. mpw

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  11. Joe Camel says:

    The man should face three inner city thugs with intent to rob him of his possessions sometime (I have, but they decided against it.hint, ccw) . Maybe then he would know what an evil monger is. Until then, Harry, sit down and shut up.

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  12. Drew says:

    Doesn’t the President of the United States catigating America’s surgeons as butchers-for-a- fee put an end to the fear mongering debate?

    Its simply the most filthy charge I’ve ever seen in political discourse.

    Just go away people. Facts and people’s medical outcomes don’t matter to Team Obama. Just the political objective. Supporters should be ashamed. I’m not surprised, though. I’m from Chicago.

    Wretch……

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  13. Michael says:

    Doesn’t the President of the United States catigating America’s surgeons as butchers-for-a- fee put an end to the fear mongering debate?

    Link?

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  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    Link?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG56B2et4M8

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  15. tom p says:

    unless not serving your overlord is considered evil.

    MPW, which “overlord” would you consider not serving?

    Facts and people’s medical outcomes don’t matter to Team Obama.

    Drew, you think “facts and medical outcomes” matter to the “corporate overlords”???

    Nah. It is just the bottom line to them.

    Point I am making: There are “overlords” and there are “overlords”… some here seem to think that if “corporate” preceeds the term “overlord” it is OK, but if Gov’t preceeds it… OH HELL NO!!!

    Excuse me, but one seeks profit and power, the other seeks… what? Power? maybe, or not. Choose your poison. Either way, we are pawns.

    The man should face three inner city thugs with intent to rob him of his possessions sometime…

    Inner city thugs? Hah! They are a piece of cake! Forget the tuff guy b*llsh*t Joe, I have faced down dozens of those penny ante pikers (some with guns). Try facing down some shyster corporate in a 3 piece Brooks Brothers suit thug sometime… They don’t just want what you have, they want all you ever will (got any dreams? they want them too) And they don’t run away just because you punched one of them in the nose…

    Until then, if you don’t have anything to offer the discussion besides “tuff guy bullshit”, sit down and shut up.

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  16. Franklin says:

    Uh, you guys have a learning disability if you think that’s what he’s suggesting. He’s pointing out that preventative care saves money down the road.

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  17. Franklin says:

    P.S. I’m responding to the idiotic “butchers for a fee” comment by Drew and supported by G.A.

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  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    Funny he dint go after the abortion mongers for chopping up babies and sucking their brains out to get paid…..

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  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    He’s pointing out that preventative care saves money down the road.

    lol, he just put out a conspiracy theory as the president.

    Bus+Doctor=Obama was here.

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  20. Franklin says:

    Regarding Furhead’s point, that’s debatable. ‘Monger’ usually means to promote or sell something – a warmonger promotes war, a cheesemonger sells cheese. So old Harry appears to be saying that opponents are promoting evil, which would seem to be an evil thing to do, hence he is calling health care opponents evil.

    The online Merriam-Webster dictionary, however, defines fearmonger as scaremonger, which in turn is defined as ‘one inclined to raise or excite alarms especially needlessly’. So I suppose there’s an argument that an evilmonger would be one who needlessly calls the health care plan evil.

    So which one did Reid actually mean? Well, he tries to apologize, so I think the answer is obvious. I’m not going to call Harry evil, but he is an ass.

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  21. G.A.Phillips says:

    lol, The “Footers” has a nice ring to it……

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  22. markm says:

    If someone stands up in a town hall meeting and asks about those dreaded death panels can’t we just call them what they are?

    Deluded idiots?

    Or disingenuous trolls? (I’m looking at you Sarah)

    And all of a sudden the other deluded idiots want to drop something from one of five bills that isn’t there:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090813/ap_on_go_co/us_health_care_end_of_life_2

    ……nuff’ said….

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  23. Davebo says:

    Sadly mpw280 is not aware of all internet traditions.

    And markm has reading issues.

    Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the provision had been dropped from consideration because it could be misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly.

    A health care bill passed by three House committees allows Medicare to reimburse doctors for voluntary counseling sessions about end-of-life decisions. But critics have claimed the provision could lead to death panels and euthanasia for seniors.

    In other words, demagoguery has made the provision hard to defend, despite the fact that it doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    Who could have dreamed that health care reform could be too complex to fit on a bumper sticker?

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  24. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Davebo, what is at the end of life? Know the answer? It is not retirement. Now if you have end of life (death) counseling. Are the guidelines for such counseling going to be set by some government panel? What do you want to call them? Government involvement in anything to do with decisions concerning how one wishes to spend their last years is a violation of guarantees listed as endowed in us by our creator. Not some government lackey. I’ll bet you work in a DMV and think it is efficient.

    Harry Reid is committing political suicide. But then he wasn’t going to get reelected anyway.

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  25. One Bit Shy says:

    His choice of words may not have been terribly politic, but I sympathize with Reid’s desire to choose something other than “fear-monger”.

    The death panel allegation is more than fear mongering. It’s not just scaring people that grandma might be killed. It’s also an insinuation that Democrats want to kill off people as the means to healthcare reform. It’s painting Democrats as evil.

    “Evil-monger” is an awkward phrase that probably doesn’t work effectively, but from what I’m seeing, it is accurate.

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  26. As a Democrat, I have a question apropos of Mr. Reid: is it okay to use the word ‘twat’ on this blog?

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  27. By the way, a historical note.

    It was in the 14th century that the Evil Monger’s Guild was first formed in the city of Lederhosen. At the time Lederhosen was riven (that’s right: riven) by a sort of gang war between two factions, both selling evil.

    This turf war over the evil market caused prisons to fill and gibbets to sag with the weight of the condemned.

    When a temporary interruption (the black plague) in supply led to an evil shortage, both gangs (the Pustules and the Leprous Extremities) started to really step on their evil, adulterating it with less potent unpleasantness or even cheap discourtesy.

    Evil addicts died in their thousands. Making it pretty much like any other day in Lederhosen. But the point is that something had to be done to ensure the purity and integrity of evil in the marketplace.

    And thus the Evil Mongers Guild was born. In Germany. Duh.

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  28. Davebo says:

    Davebo, what is at the end of life? Know the answer? It is not retirement. Now if you have end of life (death) counseling. Are the guidelines for such counseling going to be set by some government panel?

    I have no idea Zel. Why don’t you ask the Schiavo family?

    I’ll bet you work in a DMV and think it is efficient.

    Then you should stay away from Vegas because you suffer the dual afflictions of being not terribly bright, nor lucky.

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  29. G.A.Phillips says:

    And thus the Evil Mongers Guild was born. In Germany. Duh.

    Harry, you got a link? I like history.

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  30. G.A.:

    Um. . Wikipedia?

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  31. An Interested Party says:

    In other words, demagoguery has made the provision hard to defend, despite the fact that it doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    Demagoguery spread by Grassley himself…and to think, this is one of the key senators trying to negotiate a deal on health care…wonderful…

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  32. ggr says:

    It’s painting Democrats as evil.

    Which is more or less what many Democrats did with respect to the Republicans during the Bush administration. Both sides engage in the same practices, and then display mock horror when the other side returns the favor.

    And people wonder why such a large portion of the population never bothers to vote.

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  33. Jim says:

    I wonder whether Nevada’s citizens will like being called “Evil Mongers” in the next election?

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  34. Davebo says:

    Which is more or less what many Democrats did with respect to the Republicans during the Bush administration.

    So there is a moral equivalence between admonishing folks who shout lies at town hall meetings and setting up secret prisons and authorizing torture or starting wars based on pure fabrication.

    Interesting isn’t it, how that phrase “moral equivalence” has transformed over the years.

    To an alien just arriving on the planet it would seem incredible.

    To anyone who has lived in America from the 90’s on it’s hilarious.

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  35. An Interested Party says:

    This should get some interesting reactions…

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  36. [...] “Evil-Mongers” to the growing list of demeaning names that Democrats in the House and Senate are calling their [...]

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  37. sam says:

    Ah, this all bullshit. Reid said “fish mongers”.

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  38. G.A.Phillips says:

    G.A.:

    Um. . Wikipedia?

    Sorry, thanks.

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  39. G.A.Phillips says:

    Ah, this all bullshit. Reid said “fish mongers”.

    lol, I could have swore he said “poop mongers”, or was that me?

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  40. floyd says:

    “”So that means these people are promoting “evil” through their discourse?””

    So, he was referring to his supporters??

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  41. [...] of socialized medicine to what the ever-cloddish Senator Harry Reid called the “evil mongers” who pervade town-hall meetings with their hate-filled fist pumping. Unfortunately for the [...]

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  44. [...] He did apologize though. Right before he backtracked off of his disastrous decision to only hold tele-town halls (ala Harry Reid). Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) apologized yesterday for accusing town hall protesters of “brown shirt tactics” and comparing them to a “lynch mob.” [...]

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