[UPDATE: Fineman apologized. For more, go here.] MSNBC contributor and Huffington Post editor Howard Fineman on Monday smeared Grover Norquist as "ayatollah"-like for his opposition to higher taxes. Talking to Hardball's Chris Matthews, Fineman fumed, "...A long time before the Tea Party existed or had a name, Grover Norquist, the famous anti-tax lobbyist in Washington, was running around beginning to enforce, ayatollah-style, his edict about taxes." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
According to Fineman, this Middle Eastern-style pledge "has really become the core identity of the modern conservative Republican party." Anchor Matthews ludicrously described GOP fidelity to Norquist as "human bondage."
Fineman, formerly of the defunct publication Newsweek, long ago dropped any pretense of journalistic objectivity. On July 23, he lashed out at Mitt Romney, saying the Republican has "played to the kind of nativist base of the Tea Party. And by nativist, I mean people who are, in essence, afraid of the world."
A transcript of Fineman's December 3 comments can be found below:
HOWARD FINEMAN: By the way, a long time before the Tea Party existed or had a name, Grover Norquist, the famous anti-tax lobbyist in Washington, was running around beginning to enforce, Ayatollah-style, his edict about taxes. And he got Republicans beginning back in the '80s to sign these tax pledges, which, as I say, that tax pledge has really become the core identity of the modern conservative Republican party.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: For a couple weeks, Republicans could be seen saying they were no longer bound, human bondage, to Grover Norquist, but lately some of them have been quietly over the telephone slithering back into Grover's embrace. This is embarrassing for some of these senators. They come out against the guy. They say it doesn't matter, then sneak back in on the phone. "I'm sorry. Grover. I'm sorry."