By Michael J.W. Stickings
I’m not sure what to call it. Obama Panic?
Whatever the case, Republicans have never met an anti-Obama conspiracy theory they didn’t embrace with all their venomous, fearful hearts.
The same was true with Clinton, of course, lest we forget just how crazy the Gingrich-led Republicans were back then, but with Obama it has odious racism at its core, along with a sense that Obama is the all-powerful puppetmaster singlehandedly turning America into the socialist paradise of their ridiculous, delusional nightmares.
Birtherism is the most notorious of these discredited theories, with Donald Trump leading the way, but it hardly stops there. And today — yes, today — we encountered a new group of anti-Obama crazies:
The jobs / job-report / unemployment truthers.
Today, President Obama — and America — got some great news, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8 percent in September and that there was a gain of a modest but still significant 114,000 jobs (“total nonfarm payroll employment”), along with a revised total for July and August that showed 86,000 more new jobs than originally reported.
It was expected that Romney would throw some cold water on the news, claiming that the increases have declined over the past three months and blaming the president for the loss of manufacturing jobs, but the numbers speak for themselves. The 7.8 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since January 2009 and so the lowest of Obama’s presidency.
This isn’t to say that the economy is charging ahead at full steam, but, as Kevin Roose wrote at Daily Intel, “[t]oday’s numbers are a clear win for the Obama campaign’s recovery narrative… It’s not a perfect recovery, and it’s not as quick a recovery as we should hope for. But it’s a recovery, clear as day.” And that contradicts the Romney narrative, one he pushed hard in the debate, of an economy in stagnation.
But it wasn’t really Romney who made news with his criticism today, it was those “truthers,” people like former GE CEO Jack Welch, who tweeted: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.”
Yes, Welch, once one of the country’s most prominent CEOs and still a highly-respected business leader — if also, of course, a Republican — actually accused the president and his “Chicago” team of tampering with the numbers, of controlling the BLS and making sure today’s numbers would help the president after a poor debate performance.
Which is a simply outrageous, and entirely unfounded, charge.
And it wasn’t just Welch. (Think Progress exposes the truthers.) As WaPo’s Greg Sargent wrote:
So the unemployment rate truthers are in a panic this morning. Some conservatives are angrily claiming that the new Labor Department stats finding unemployment below eight percent were cooked to help Obama win reelection.
The Tweet from former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is gaining the most attention… The refrain has been picked up by conservative Republicans in Congress and CNBC contributors. Fox News’s homepage blares: “Jobless rate dips under 8 percent, but…IS THE NUMBER REAL?”
It’s all completely crazy, but it’s also really bad for Romney:
Ezra Klein debunks the whole thing, as if it needs debunking. But it’s also worth noting that it’s hard to see how the unemployment truthers are helping Mitt Romney here. By launching into a full blown angry panic about improving jobs numbers, they only draw attention to, and reinforce, the idea that the economy is, in fact, improving — and, worse, that the prospect of economic improvement is terrible news for Romney’s presidential prospects.
The numbers themselves make Obama’s own job of getting re-elected a bit easier (and Romney’s use of a still-struggling economy for his political benefit that much tougher).
These “truthers,” pushing another crazy conspiracy, are helping out, further discrediting their party — and its candidate — and serving as a very public reminder that Obama Panic is very much the way of things on the right these days.