- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2004

Nobles: Mel Gibson, actor/director, for honoring his father and his Father.

Anyone with parents knows that following the Fifth Commandment can often be fearful duty. Mr. Gibson has done his best to fulfill a dual mandate — to honor both his earthly dad and his heavenly Father — despite the dramatic difficulties of doing so.

Mr. Gibson believes that, about a decade ago, during a profound spiritual crisis (in which he considered suicide), he was divinely directed to produce a realistic portrait of the last hours of Christ’s life. His determination to make the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” which opens Wednesday, has cost him dearly. He had to put up $25 million of his own money because no major studio would back the project. Many were certain the movie would flop. While facing fears of financial failure, Mr. Gibson was repeatedly accused of being an anti-Semite and stirring up hatred — a few even claimed he would have blood on his hands.

Mr. Gibson’s determination to honor his biological father has been even harder, thanks to Hutton Gibson’s habit of making statements both factually wrong and morally repugnant. It would be a distressing situation for anyone. It’s even worse considering Mr. Gibson’s Catholic convictions and prominent position. Instead of dismissing his father or embracing falsehoods, Mr. Gibson has chosen to suffer most of the cheap shots that have followed, quietly remaining a dutiful son while denouncing anti-Semitism.

Heaven grants its own rewards, but Mr. Gibson’s obedience is likely to see at least a few earthly gains — “Passion” is now expected to make back its entire production budget during its first weekend.

Knaves: Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, for a dastardly denouncement of an esteemed jurist on the floor of the Senate.

Few Washingtonians are surprised that the war on terrorism has been politicized. However, the rancor that has risen from the ranks of the opposition has been reprehensible.

Mr. Reid’s attack on Judge Laurence Silberman last week was a case in point. Judge Silberman has senior status on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He has been a public servant for more than three decades, his posts ranging from Undersecretary of Labor to ambassador to Yugoslavia, and he has taught at Georgetown, NYU and Harvard.

Mr. Reid pilloried Judge Silberman for the “crime” of being picked by President Bush as Republican co-chairman of the commission investigating the intelligence failures in prewar Iraq. The senator made a series of poisonous accusations against the judge — calling him “one of the most partisan people in all America” and “a longtime political operative, far right of the Republican Party.” Mr. Reid even stooped to the level of lashing out with the lies of David Brock, author of “Blinded by the Right.”

In a column about the philippic, Robert Novak wrote, “Not since Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s attack on Gen. George C. Marshall a half-century ago has the Senate been such a cockpit for calumny against a distinguished lifetime public servant.”

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