Media Obsession with Rubio’s Sip Is Misplaced

In giving the Republican Party’s rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Florida Senator Marco Rubio took a sip of water in between lines.  Various pundits seized on this “gaffe” as though it were the death knell for Rubio’s political career.  But lost in the story were the dubious claims and exaggerations President Obama made in his address earlier that night.  For example, the President claimed that: “Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”  The deficit reduction of $2.5 trillion the President referred to is primarily attributable to projected budgets over the next ten years, and budget projections are notoriously unreliable.  The President’s claim is even more dubious when placed in context; his administration has overseen the four highest annual deficits in the history of the United States.

Similarly, the President’s statement that “After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs” is a classic example of “cherry-picking” facts.  According to a recent Washington Post article citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while 6 million jobs have indeed been created since February 2010, in February 2013 there were 3.2 million fewer jobs than there were when the recession began in December 2007.

Perhaps most strikingly, many press reports about Rubio’s misstep failed to point out that Bill Clinton was booed at the Democratic National Convention in 1988 for making an overly long speech.  Yet four years later, he won the presidential election.

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