A reporter gifted White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki one of her favorites today – a vague question backed by zero details – and boy did she go to town with it.
"Senator Tom Cotton says the nation's wealthiest colleges are indoctrinating young people with what he calls 'un-American ideas,'" the reporter starts, then mentions Cotton's tax proposal that would target private endowments to raise $2-million a year. "Does the president believe that our wealthiest schools are indoctrinating our youth with un-American ideas, and would he support such a tax?"
"Now you have intrigued me," Psaki says with one of her famous smiles. "What are the un-American ideas that are indoctrinating our youth?" The reporter mutters something about how the legislation isn't precise about this.
"Oh, he's not specific about the indoctrination by leaders from universities?" Psaki says, clearly having a good time. By now this type of half-baked question by unprepared reporters is mere playtime for the press secretary.
"Well, he's been critical of the 1619 project… about critical race theory…" the reporter says. "… he's claimed that there's a liberal bias on campus that, uh, targets conservatives…"
"What's he going to do with the money?" Psaki asks. The reporter stammers something about job training programs, but says he forgets the word he wants.
"Well, without much detail of where he thinks our youth are being indoctrinated – it sounds very mysterious and dangerous – I don't think we believe that educating the future leaders of the country on systemic racism is indoctrination. That's actually responsible."
Psaki then brilliantly turns the question about Cotton's proposed bill to tax endowments on its head. "I would say if he is trying to raise money for something, then our view is there are lots of ways to do that. We know that a number of corporations have hugely benefited financially during the pandemic. They could pay more taxes. We think the highest 1% of Americans can pay more taxes. If he wants to have a conversation about worker training, we would love to have him over to have a conversation."