Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on Fox News' 'The Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Ex-Newsweek Editor Howard Fineman Slams: Tea Partiers Are Creating a 'Slow Motion Secession'

Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Monday berated Tea Partiers for engineering a "slow motion succession" in relation to the budget impasse in Congress.

Appearing with Hardball host Chris Matthews, Fineman summarized the conservative position this way: "This is an ending of the social compact. This is two, three generations worth of agreement about Social Security, about Medicare, about the role of the federal government. The Tea Party people are saying, we want to secede from that society."

The evidence for this Republican succession? The GOP's refusal to agree to Democratic deals to increase the debt ceiling. "What's going on here, as I see it, is a kind of slow motion secession," Fineman declared.

The former Newsweek editor then spoke for the Tea Party, explaining what they really want: "And the way to do it is to draw the line on spending and taxes, to starve the federal government so that loses power, so that we aren't part of the social compact anymore."

Matthews responded to this argument by injecting race into the debate. He blurted, "You know what this sounds like? When I spent two years in Southern Africa. It sounds like what the whites talked about doing."

Continuing this analogy, Matthews suggested the Tea Party would eventually go "into some sort of little circle, like Custer's last stand against the United States."

This proved too much even for Fineman, now the political editor of the Huffington Post. He pushed back, "Well, I wouldn't put a racial tone on it."

A transcript of the exchange on the Monday, July 25 Hardball:

[On the continuing budget impasse.]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think it's part of this, this flat-Earth society that doesn't believe in science, doesn't believe in human history, that doesn't believe in global change, global climate change. Nothing.

HOWARD FINEMAN: What's going on here, as I see it, is a kind of slow motion secession. This is- this is an ending of the social compact. This is two gen- three generations worth of agreement about Social Security, about Medicare, about the role of the federal government. The Tea Party people are saying, we want to secede from that society. And the way to do it is to draw the line on spending and taxes, to starve the federal government so that loses power, so that we aren't part of the social compact anymore. And that's the real argument that's going on. And the Congress as an institution, is incapable of deal with that kind of fundamental argument, given the entitlement age and welfare state age, why you have the super committees and super duper committees and the smaller and smaller ring of people attempting to attempting to decide something. Do you hear what I'm saying?

MATTHEWS: You know what this sounds like? You know what this sounds like? When I spent two years in Southern Africa. It sounds like what the whites talked about doing.

FINEMAN: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: Eventually going into some sort of little circle, like Custer's last stand against the United States.

FINEMAN: Well, I wouldn't put a racial tone on it. But I would say the Congress is not deal with the fundamental question here. They refuse to do it. And they're not deal wig it now, because both- because both bills, both plans, both the Boehner plan and the Reid plan don't deal with either entitlements or taxes.

MATTHEWS: Who's the guy that's emerging at the top Republican name year hearing these days? Rick Perry. Who actually does talk about succession, withdrawing from the federal government.

— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.