The Book of Job or the Book on Jobs? Either Way, It's Painful

Dan Gainor

7/31/2010 12:01:00 AM - Dan Gainor

Speak the first a certain way and you are talking about the Book of Job from the Old Testament. Job was a fortunate and pious man who lost everything proving his faith in trial after trial.

If you are looking for one of those elusive jobs, you know a little how Job felt. It’s not just that there aren’t any jobs, it’s that no one in the administration or the media really give a darn whether you get one.

They’re interested in jobs alright. In the past week, their focus has been on just two of them – Shirley Sherrod’s supposedly “racist” firing and BP CEO Tony Hayward’s justified removal. The other 14.6 million unemployed don’t matter much to either the White House or the press corps because they ignored the real job news.

On July 23, the administration said that unemployment wasn’t going to drop below 9 percent until 2012. “The White House's 9 percent forecast for 2011 is more pessimistic than recently revised Federal Reserve predictions,” according to CNNMoney.com. The major TV networks pretty much ignored it.

In the days that followed, there were no direct references to the 9 percent number or the fact that we have at least another year and a half of massive unemployment. But Sherrod and Hayward got tons of press and an equal amount of White House attention.

As NBC’s Natalie Morales put it for Hayward: “Add one more job to the thousands lost in the Gulf oil spill.” In Sherrod’s case, Obama called her personally to discuss his “regret” and spoke with her for seven minutes.

Maybe Sherrod is the new metaphor for the Obama administration: They will save or create the millions of jobs Americans need … just one job at a time. At the rate of one every seven minutes, Obama would need to be in the White House for a couple decades easy.

Imagine if the Bush administration had declared that unemployment would stay at horrific levels for a year and a half. The media that skewered Bush on jobs when the economy was good would have treated him just like Job.

Heck, they did anyway. In 2005, a year when the U.S. gained 2 million new jobs – positive growth by any standard – the media were downbeat. More than half the network stories focused on job losses. Jim Acosta of the “CBS Evening News” left his viewers with a memorable image of the 8,700 job cuts at General Motors in his November 21 story: “Just three days before Thanksgiving, GM is carving up its work force like a Butterball turkey.”

Instead, the Obama administration has been claiming the job news is actually positive. In an exchange between ABC’s Jake Tapper and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, you see the White House disconnect on employment.

Tapper, the king of understatement, noted: “Job creation has not gone as well as you hoped.” A bit later Geithner spun like a top: “Now, we’ve seen six months of positive job growth by the private sector. That’s pretty good.”

Pretty good? Unemployment is at 9.5 percent and projected by the same White House not to drop more than half a percent in the next year and a half. Geithner shouldn’t be Treasury Secretary. He should become the public relations guy for BP.

Team Obama was pushing positive claims across the media. Democratic strategist Donna Brazille echoed the party talking point to the “This Week” audience. “Bottom line, it's about jobs, jobs, jobs,” she said of the economy. No kidding. But her side won’t admit how bad that bottom line is. It’s bad in almost Biblical proportions.

Instead, Obama has turned to a report from his own Council of Economic Advisers “stating that the $862 billion package of spending and tax cuts enacted last year has added between 2.7 percent and 3.2 percent to the economy and saved or created about 3 million jobs,” according to McClatchy.

Next, he tried a different spin. He blamed the other party. On July 24, Obama bashed the GOP for fighting his health care “reform” and pushing for cuts in both spending and taxes. “These are not new ideas,” Obama said. “They are the same policies that led us into this recession. They will not create jobs, they will kill them.”

Obama should know about killing jobs. His expansion of government has caused companies to leave trillions of dollars on the sidelines and driven consumer confidence to its lowest level since February.

In 1992, Bill Clinton became president saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Only the economy doesn’t vote. People with, and without, jobs do. It’s not the economy, it’s jobs. If the Obama administration is right and unemployment stays at 9 percent to 2012, it once again will be about one job – Obama’s. And angry voters will treat him like Job and give his job to someone more deserving.