Here’s a tweaked version of an old saying: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you don’t have the facts, pound the table.” And what a noisome din there was on Friday, when President Obama’s domestic enemies learned that the jobless rate had fallen below eight percent.
The new monthly jobs report is good news for America, fresh evidence that the economy remains on an incrementally upward trajectory. But as we well know by now, denizens of the Republican right and their accomplices on Fox News can’t abide good news; spurred by their hatred of Obama, they’re rooting for maximum economic misery. So when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 7.8 percent jobless rate – the lowest since George W. Bush dumped his debacle into Obama’s lap and left town – they pounded the table.
To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, they couldn’t handle the truth. So instead they dreamed up an alternative fantasy truth: The new jobless rate was faked, as part of an Obama conspiracy to get him re-elected.
They haven’t yet claimed that the Obama conspirators met on the grassy knoll. But everything else has been fair game.
Fox News (surprise!) posted this headline on its website Friday: “Jobless Rate Dips Under 8 Per Cent, But IS THE NUMBER REAL?” Blondette Laura Ingraham tweeted that the new jobless rate is “total pro-Obama propaganda.” Stuart Varney on Fox News said, “There is widespread mistrust of this report and these numbers…How concvenient the raste drops below eight percent five weeks before the election.” Florida ccongressman Allen West denounced the jobs report as “Orwelllian,” and said it was faked by “Chicago-style politics.” Former GE CEO Jack Welch tweeted, “Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything.”
But my favorite moment was when Fox News host Eric Bolling broke the conspiracy story wide open. He had actual evidence that two members of the Bureau of Labor Statistics had given campaign contributions to Obama. He even outed them by name – Harley Frazis and Stephen Phillips – in big letters that filled the whole TV screen. He said they’ve “both been donors to the Obama campaign. Should I make any assumptions from that?”
Of course the credulous Fox viewers were supposed to make assumptions. But here’s the fun part that Bolling never mentioned: (1) Phillips doesn’t even work at the BLS anymore; he left in July, (2) the BLS employs 2500 career civil servants who work under presidents of both parties, so singling out two Democratic donors doesn’t mean squat, and (3) it takes roughly 90 seconds of online research to discover, at random, that at least six BLS members have donated campaign money to Republicans.
The actual truth about the BLS is boringly benign. Under Obama, the bureau’s longtime director was Keith Hall, a George W. Bush appointee; Hall was succeeded this year by a career civil service guy who has also worked under presidents of both parties. Secondly, the process of producing the monthly jobs report is highly secretive – and it has been that way for decades. The president, regardless of party affiliation, doesn’t even see the report until the Thursday eve of its Friday public release. In other words, there’s no time for any conspirators to cook the numbers. Especially since the BLS also releases its underlying data; if something smelled, the independent economists who devour that data would sniff it out in a heartbeat.
Actually, the best way to refute the delusionists is to simply ask this question:
If the BLS civil servants really wanted to cook the numbers for Obama (and willfully destroy the credibility of their own agency), wouldn’t it be shrewder to artifically lower the jobless rate a little bit each month, so as not to foment suspicion – as opposed to unleashing their conspiracy all at once, just weeks before the election?
But that’s way too much logic for the truth-deniers to process – as is the truth that the economy is slowly repairing itself. Deep down, below their layer of delusion, they know full well that the BLS report is a political plus for Obama. Their attempt to dispute the falling jobless rate merely serves to validate it.
And, who knows, if Obama is awake during his second debate, he might even reference it.
Oh, man. Check out this detailed eye-opener about Mitt Romney’s incoherence on foreign policy. Even his own foreign policy aides (who are warring amoing themselves) have no idea what he would actually do, because – as they readily point out – he is not engaged on those issues, and he has no core convictions on anything overseas. In the second debate, eight nights from now, Obama should be able to take full advantage. Over to you, Mr. President!
“I want to point out how Gov. Romney and I share several similar perspectives in some similar areas. But first, and most important, I’d like to say that it’s been 13 days since Michelle and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, and I just want to say to you, Sweetie…”
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