The Associated Press's Tom Raum had to work really, really hard to come up with a sunny way to present today's jobs report and the President's reaction to it, which consisted of awarding $2.3 billion in "New Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits."
Here's what he concocted: The weak employment report gave Obama the chance to change the subject from terrorism, where he continues to get hammered by Republican meanies, to something else. It's as if the only reason that the job losses occurred is because the Undie Bomber distracted Dear Leader's attention from his domestic agenda.
Here are key paragraphs from Raum's ramblings:
Obama refocuses on jobs after weak labor report
His agenda altered by the Christmas bombing attempt, President Barack Obama pivoted back to the domestic economy on Friday, promoting new U.S. spending to create tens of thousands of clean-technology jobs.
He outlined the initiative after a weak government jobs report raised new questions about the sustainability of the recovery.
"It's clear why such an effort is so important. Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future, jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced," Obama said in late-afternoon economic comments at the White House.
Obama spoke after the Labor Department said the U.S. jobless rate was unchanged at 10 percent in December, following a decline the previous month. But the government's broader measure of unemployment - which includes people who have stopped looking for work or can't find full-time jobs - ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 17.3 percent.
That, plus the larger-than-expected loss of 85,000 jobs in December, put new pressure on the administration to step up job creation.
.... Riveted for the past two weeks on terrorism, the White House has been eager for a subject change. And Friday's remarks were an attempt to return national attention to Obama's domestic agenda, particularly jobs.
As long as the focus remains on terrorism, Obama is vulnerable to criticism that he isn't aggressively addressing the jobs crisis - potentially damaging politically for Democrats in this year's midterm elections. Polls show that jobs are the No. 1 concern of Americans.
At the same time, the constant focus on the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit - and U.S. intelligence failures surrounding the episode - has offered Republicans an easy opportunity to keep pounding Obama for national security lapses.
For what it's worth, Tom, it isn't just Republicans "pounding" Obama on the topic. Democrat Ed Koch, who endorsed and campaigned for the president in 2008, joined the chorus, and in the process asked a couple of really good questions:
Why haven't we honored that brave civilian (who prevented Flight 253 from becoming a disaster)? And why haven't we publicly shown appreciation to the two police officers who risked their lives to take down the Fort Hood Muslim terrorist, Major Nidal Hasan, before he could kill and maim others?
As to the jobs announcement, $2.3 billion for 17,000 jobs is $135,000 per job. That seems more than a little disproportionate to the potential benefit. It wouldn't cost the government anything resembling that amount per job to remove barriers to domestic exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas. In fact, it would raise trillions in extraction royalties, even before considering the income and other taxes that would be paid by the workers hired and the companies hiring them.
That idea would appear to makes too much sense for this bunch, who, despite Raum's contention of lost focus, have a consistent agenda that's less about creating jobs than it is about increasing the size and scope of what they control and micromanage.
(The picture at the top right is from the Christian Science Monitor, whose Linda Feldman took the same reporting tack as the AP's Raum.)
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.