Massachusetts Senator John Kerry must be thinking how fortunate he was that there were no real journalists in the room -- just perky Katie Couric -- when he appeared on NBC’s Today to complain about President Bush’s State of the Union address. As NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein noted earlier, Couric did ask a couple of pointed questions, at one point asking Kerry if there “was there anything you appreciated or liked hearing” in Bush’s speech.
But when Kerry started inventing statistics in his rant against the President’s education policies, preposterously claiming at one point that “53 percent of our children are not graduating from high school,” (in fact, 73.9 percent of incoming freshmen graduate from high school, according to the most recent Department of Education tally) Couric never even blinked -- not even when Kerry haughtily accused Bush of not presenting “the real state of the Union.”
Here’s the full exchange as it unfolded live on NBC at about 7:08am EST this morning. Kerry himself brought up education as he finished complaining about the President’s foreign policy: “I think that if you look at, look at education and competitiveness. What he did last night was timid compared to what we need to do. Of course we need to improve-”
Couric interjected: “He said he wanted to train 70,000 additional teachers in math and science.”
Kerry sarcastically shot back: “And that’s terrific, Katie, but 53 percent of our children are not graduating from high school. Kids don’t have after-school programs. Only nine percent of the people eligible in America will be able to get Pell grants this year and for the fifth year in a row they’re not gonna raise the amount of money to help kids who have a 57 percent increase in, in their cost of education to be able to pay for it.”
Since Couric didn’t interrupt, Kerry continued: “The fact is, what he’s doing is fiddling at the margins. He didn’t ask America to sacrifice anything to achieve great goals last night, and the biggest example of that is making the tax cut permanent for the wealthiest people in America. The average American is struggling to find time to take care of families. Time to be able to work two or three jobs. Their wages haven’t gone up and the President wants to give an estate tax cut and a capital gains tax cut and make it permanent to people earning more than a million dollars a year, while people earning less than $50,000 get $20 back. It’s a disgrace.”
Couric remained silent, so Kerry plowed on, condemning Bush for failing to present reality: “He didn’t tell the real state of the union, he didn’t challenge America to rise to the occasion, and I think there’s a better way to go where we can be stronger at home and stronger in the world and, and last night he didn’t describe it.”
When Kerry finally paused for air, Couric asked her final question, but she didn’t challenge anything from Kerry’s preceding screed. Instead, she wanted to know why most Americans told NBC’s pollsters that Democrats were “doing a poor job at presenting a clear agenda.”
It's not as if the Democrats aren't getting a lot of assistance from their friends in the liberal media.