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Chris Matthews Rants: The 'Tea-Bag' Conservatives Don't Get Complexity of Egypt Crisis

Chris Matthews on Thursday used the ongoing developments in Egypt as a way to bash conservatives, deriding the "tea-bag" types who don't fully grasp the situation.

Matthews appeared on Andrea Mitchell Reports and described how he perceived the conservative response to Egypt: "And conservatives are very fearful of this. They look at crowds like this, they don't like the looks of them. They don't like protests. They don't like people in the streets."

Trying to create an ideological divide in how Americans are responding, the Hardball host attacked, "...More often than not, the thoughtful progressive sounds very much like the thoughtful conservative. And the thoughtful conservative, like a George Will, not a tea-bag person, sort of person like that, a tea-bag, a tea party person, but a thoughtful conservative knows that you have to make changes to accommodate the people or you'll lose all legitimacy."

The MSNBC anchor then offered an incoherent historical comparison for Egypt. Highlighting China's turn to communism, Matthews spun, "We saw the Chinese change their form of government in the late '40s and thought, 'oh, it was the mistake or the collaboration or the treason, even, of a number of China hands.' The John Stewart Services, the Fairbanks and all that."

Matthews added, "They were all humiliated by our establishment, buy our right wing-led establishment." John Stewart Service was An American diplomat. According to the book China Misperceived by Steven W. Mosher:

[Service] returned from a visit to that country to declare that "life is obviously better for the grea majority. There is no longer starvation and bitter poverty...Perhaps the single word that best describes [the prevailing attitude] is egalitarian.


Mosher said of John Fairbank, a Chinese historian who was one of the so-called "China hands" in the 1940s:

By 1972, Fairbank was sounding like the most infatuated of political pilgrims: "The people seem healthy, well fed and articulate about their role as citizens in Mao's new China."

Mao Zedong's regime killed an estimated 40 to 70 million people. So, perhaps these aren't the best examples Matthews could come up with.

A transcript of the exchange, which aired at 1:48pm EST on February 10, follows:

 

RACHEL MADDOW: But the American people, I think, we have to separate our own feelings of sympathy with what the people of Egypt are trying to do. Sympathy, fear, the fact that we're impressed by what they've been able to accomplish, we need to separate that from whether or not our own government achieves American national security aims by voicing similar emotional feelings that are own population might have.

ANDREA MITCHELL: And in fact, as Rachel and Jamie Rubin have just pointed out, dictatorships where people are locked up in jail and interrogated doesn't translate into security. That's not stability. As the President said, "we're following today's events in Egypt very closely, we'll have more to say, but what is absolutely clear is we are witnessing history unfold. It is a moment of transformation that is taking place, because the people of Egypt are calling for change."CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, you know, occasionally, in fact, more often than not, the thoughtful progressive sounds very much like the thoughtful conservative. And the thoughtful conservative, like a George Will, not a tea-bag person, sort of person like that, a tea-bag, a tea party person, but a thoughtful conservative knows that you have to make changes to accommodate the people or you'll lose all legitimacy. You have to make change. So you have to make change. So change is a progressive impulse and it's a conservative calculation. And sometimes the calculation merges with the impulse. Rachel is a progressive, a thoughtful progressive. George Will is a thoughtful conservative. They both realize, hands off, number one. And two, the people do want change over there. Recognize it, accommodate it, either cheer for it or whatever, but accept it. And I think that's what we're doing now. Americans are growing up. We saw the Chinese change their form of government in the late '40s and thought, 'oh, it was the mistake or the collaboration or the treason, even, of a number of China hands.' The John Stewart Services, the Fairbanks and all that. They were all humiliated by our establishment, buy our right wing-led establishment, I should say, when all they were doing was recognizing the nationalism of the Chinese people after years of the war lords and collaboration with the west. And, so, interesting now, we're looking at this, I think. But the interesting thing we didn't bring about, but we'll have to talk about it tonight in the prime-time shows as this develops and matures this story, the Republicans in the Democratic Party as people in this country disagree on this. Democrats are relatively mixed in their views. They say, "Well, there might be something here, something progressive, something American, if you look at it broadly." And conservatives are very fearful of this. They look at crowds like this, they don't like the looks of them. They don't like protests. They don't like people in the streets. So, I think there's a different political reaction, as we get closer to our election next year.


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