Fineman: ‘Self-Righteous’ Lieberman ‘Kicking Dems in Teeth,’ Obama Swearing In ‘One of Great Moments in History'

Catching up on the Sunday, December 20, syndicated Chris Matthews Show – during which the panel weighed in on who should be granted various dishonors for the year – panel member Howard Fineman of Newsweek charged that independent Senator Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat, had "kicked [Democrats] n the teeth time after time after time and behaved in a completely self-righteous way about it," as the panel discussed Lieberman’s insistence on making Senate Democrats negotiate on universal health insurance. After host Chris Matthews introduced the show’s "Chutzpah Prize" for the year – with nominees being Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Bristol Palin boyfriend Levi Johnston, and Senator Joe Lieberman – Fineman voiced his belief that Lieberman deserves attention. Fineman:

You got to look at Joe Lieberman. The Democrats bent over to keep him as part of the caucus, to give him the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee. And he has just kicked them in the teeth time after time after time and behaved in a completely self-righteous way about it. He is offended permanently and personally offended. It's permanent, never-ending payback.

Later, during the segment when Matthews compared Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to a "plague," as Fineman condemned Beck for his over the top accusation that President Obama is a "racist," Fineman contended that President Obama’s swearing in was "one of the great moments in American history."

HOWARD FINEMAN: I think the name calling, the shameless name calling, and stirring up of the worst in our society is something that should be condemned. It was a year ago, almost a year ago, that we were all out there on the mall, when Barack Obama was sworn in as President, one of the great moments in American history, no matter what your politics are, no matter who you are, where you come from, and to sort of drag all that through the mud I think is a plague.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yes, bring back tribalism.

FINEMAN: Yeah, exactly.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, December 20, Chris Matthews show:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Next category, the "Chutzpah Prize." There were plenty of examples this year, of course. Our picks for the top four. U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson. Remember this one?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, FROM SEPTEMBER 9 SPEECH TO CONGRESS: The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

REP. JOE WILSON (R-SC): You lie!

MATTHEWS: And even the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, got into the act. Cheney had constant criticisms for the President – like this one.

DICK CHENEY, FROM STATE OF THE UNION ON CNN: Now he's making choices that in my mind will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.

MATTHEWS: Then for chutzpah, there's Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin's daughter's ex-boyfriend.

LEVI JOHNSTON, EX-BOYFRIEND OF BRISTOL PALIN, FROM THE EARLY SHOW ON CBS: If she's going to go out there and say stuff to me about me, I'm going to leak some things on her.

MATTHEWS: And, finally, there's Joe Lieberman, who repeatedly insists he will vote down various Democratic compromises on health care. John, a rich list.

JOHN HEILEMAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yeah, when I look at that list, I think about John Kennedy Toole’s book, A Confederacy of Dunces. And there's some dunces on that list and some cranks on that list. But the worst of them, I think, has to be Joe Wilson. And I think for two reasons. One, the act itself was historically unprecedented, was so outrageous. But secondly, because it symbolically was really important. There is a – obviously, what we've learned this year is that there is this welling up of Obama hatred among certain quarters of the right wing in America. And Joe Wilson gave voice to that. In two words, he gave voice to it and crystallized the extent to which there's an irrational degree of just visceral hatred for this man among certain parts of the American populace.

MATTHEWS: And he knew he'd be backed up on that.

HEILEMANN: And the money poured in for him and proved the point.

MATTHEWS: Anybody else?

HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: Well, Joe Lieberman. You got to look at Joe Lieberman. The Democrats bent over to keep him as part of the caucus, to give him the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee. And he has just kicked them in the teeth time after time after time and behaved in a completely self-righteous way about it.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

FINEMAN: He is offended permanently and personally offended.

MATTHEWS: Is he just getting even for what happened in 2006 when the party dumped him?

FINEMAN: It's permanent, never-ending payback.

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

FINEMAN: Permanent, never-ending payback.

...

 

MATTHEWS: When we come back, more of our look back at this year. What was the bigger plague, the birthers or the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh? And who gets our "Backbone of Steel" award? And who was the biggest cad of the year? That's a long list. And we got a lot of nominees. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back. And more of our look back at this year. Next category, we're calling it a "Plague on All Our Houses." First, swine flu – now, that was a big, big deal this year. The birthers, another kind of plague, the people who pushed the idea that Barack Obama was not born in America. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk – the nutty talk went off the rails this past summer. Here is Beck:

GLENN BECK, FROM THE JULY 28 FOX AND FRIENDS, CLIP #1: This President, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don't know what it is.

BECK CLIP #2: This guy is, I believe, a racist.

BECK: And our last plague, those reality TV wannabes. The balloon family and those White House gate crashers. Howard, another rich list. By the way, Glenn Beck, white people. What's that supposed to mean?

FINEMAN: Well, it's hard not to name him the "Plague of the Year." And not for ideological reasons. Because I think the name calling, the shameless name calling, and stirring up of the worst in our society is something that should be condemned. It was a year ago, almost a year ago, that we were all out there on the mall, when Barack Obama was sworn in as President, one of the great moments in American history, no matter what your politics are, no matter who you are, where you come from, and to sort of drag all that through the mud I think is a plague.

MATTHEWS: Yes, bring back tribalism.

FINEMAN: Yeah, exactly.