Lauer Treats Kerry With All "Due" Respect; Matalin Loaded for Bear

Sometimes even Marxists get it right, and no, I'm not speaking of John Kerry. It was Karl Marx himself who famously said "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

To judge by his treatment at the hands of Matt Lauer this morning, John Kerry: Part Deux teeters on the brink of being dismissed as farce even by his quondam comrades in the MSM.

Kerry was in to offer his critique of Pres. Bush's speech of yesterday in which he laid out his plan for victory in Iraq.

When Kerry argued that "the insurgency has to be dealt with through a political reconciliation," Lauer cut him off peremptorily. "With all due respect," interrupted Lauer, not-so-subtle code for "not much respect is due."  Lauer pointed out that "the President talked about the political process as well and laid that out in his plan for victory."

Lauer had done his homework and continued his critique of Kerry's bona fides thusly:

"I've been reading the key points of the plan you laid out on November 10th, and in all honesty, except for the fact that you want to withdraw 20,000 US forces immediately following successful elections in December, it doesn't seem that you have all that much disagreement on the big items on that list."

Compare and contrast with the reverential treatment a John McCain or other Today fave receives, and Kerry should realize that he had been seriously 'dissed' this morning.

An aside: one of Kerry's advisers should tell him that it's possible to overdo the standard advice to politicians to smile on camera. The random smiles Kerry flashed this morning were an off-putting distraction, in this viewer's opinion.

Then it was on to a Katie Couric interview of Mary Matalin.  Mary was the fire-breathing antithesis of the notion that the Bush administration has been lackadaisical in its response to critics. She was absolutely loaded for bear, a Vesuvius of facts and figures making the case that there has been significant military, political and economic progress in Iraq and that the precipitous withdrawal urged by some Democrats would be disastrous for both Iraq and our own national security interests.

Mary got off a zinger right out of the box.  Couric asked her to comment on Kerry's suggestion that an estimated timetable for troop withdrawal is something that needs to be debated.

Matalin, unsuccessfully suppressing a grin: "it has been discussed and debated, and John Kerry was against that position before he was for it."  Ouch.

When Matalin cited an impressive list of accomplishments in Iraq, Couric countered with the President's weak poll numbers. 

When Matalin began to react, Couric cut her off:  "before you sigh so audibly and visibly, Mary, the latest Gallup poll shows the president's approval ratings at an all-time low.  Why is there such a disconnect between what is going on in Iraq and how the American public is perceiving it?"

Matalin: "For months now, the Democrats have been saying 'the President lied, the President lied, the President lied', with no evidence whatsoever.  In that same period of time the President's credibility has dropped 20 points. Now he's fighting back."

She continued: "People here are bombarded with relentless demagoguery from the Democrats, and frankly, a disproportionate [negative] view of what's going on in Iraq from the MSM is affecting the polls."

Couric sought to end on a Kumbaya note: "You know, Mary, 160,000 US service men and women, many of them quite young, are still in Iraq. Do you think somehow Democrats and Republicans can get together and agree on some kind of strategy since so many US lives have already been lost and so many are continuing to be at risk?"

Matalin was having none of a false consensus:

"The cost of action is high - we've lost 2000 of our best and brightest in three years. But the cost of inaction is even greater.  We lost in three hours 3000 innocent Americans.  There is a cost of inaction and we should have that debate."

She continued, barely pausing for breath: "And we should talk about the consequences of pulling out, which would be rampant slaughter, implosion of the country, destabilization, in the region and global economic consequences.  They don't talk about what they're doing . . . emboldening our enemies by talking about withdrawal."

As Katie Couric likes to say of her feminist sisters: you go girl!

Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell, SUNY Buffalo and Harvard. He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk TV show. He is currently seeking a publisher for his anti-terrorism thriller, "Albergue Olimpico."

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.