Rich Galen
Two weeks ago the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics dropped a bomb on the Presidential campaign of Barack Obama when it released data showing only 66,000 jobs had been created in May - far below estimates - and that the top-line unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.2 percent.

This past Friday at a press conference, in response to a question about the GOP's contention that it is his Administration's policies that are strangling job growth, President Obama said, "the private sector is doing fine."

He went on to explain that the rise in unemployment is largely due to budget difficulties at the state and local government level because mayors and governors are not getting the "kind of support they need from the federal government."

The federal government needs to send money to states and cities so those governments can hire more people. People who may do important work, but create nothing.

A few short hours after Obama had essentially proclaimed the return of prosperity for private industry, Bloomberg.com was running a piece by Chris Burritt headlined, "CEOs Losing Optimism as Job Slowdown Imperils U.S. Growth."

To make his point, Burritt wrote:

"Albertsons grocery store chain said this week it will cut as many as 2,500 jobs. Hewlett-Packard has announced the biggest round of job cuts out of any U.S. company this year, at 27,000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

Even Obama's favorite CEO, Dan Akerson (who runs our national car company, GM) said

"When people have confidence that they'll have a job and that their homes are safe and whatnot, they tend to spend more and that tends to drive demand."

That "whatnot" was echoed by AT&T chairman Randall Stevenson of whom Burritt wrote:

The real driver is businesses "hiring and putting people on payroll," Stephenson said in a May 10 interview. "We're still not seeing that."

Which leads us to ask the question: What world was Obama describing?

On Sunday, David Axelrod who is the senior advisor to the Obama campaign was sent out to try and scrape up the mess. In more than two minutes of bobbing and weaving on Candy Crowley's CNN Sunday show he couldn't get himself to way whether or not the private sector is "doing fine."

SIDEBAR

It is a continuing irritant to me that the networks allow David Axelrod to have the same standing as one of the candidates for President or Vice President.

This weekend was a perfect example. Absent the President going on, the networks should have either demanded Vice President Biden come on and explain the Administration's position, or an official of the Administration - not an official of the campaign.

END SIDEBAR

Remember, this "woe to state and local workers" business came a few days after public service unions were handed their lunch pails by the voters in Wisconsin who handily beat back a recall challenge to Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Walker had the - dare we say it - audacity to tell public workers they were making more than their private sector neighbors, they had better benefits and more job security, and that wasn't fair to the folks who were paying the bills.

The unions set off on a year-long tantrum to toss Walker out of the statehouse, but … they lost.

Obama's "private sector is doing fine" gaffe was not the only problem he had last week. Bill Clinton - who is supposed to be helping Obama - said that those "Bush-era" tax cuts should be extended for all Americans - even the wealthiest, assumedly because the private sector is not doing fine.

According to the DailyBeast.com

"The former president said on Tuesday he supports the extension of his successor's tax cuts-a major break from President Obama's position. In an interview with CNBC, Clinton said temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts is "probably the best thing to do right now" to jump-start the economy."

Clinton, after suffering that moment of clarity in thinking, walked back his comment on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer saying he was mistaken in when the tax increase would hit. He thought they needed to be acted upon before the election, instead of before the end of the year.

It is not clear to me why that makes any difference as to the tax rates' effect on stimulating or further stalling the economy, but there you are.

"The private sector is doing fine" might not be the determining gaffe in this campaign, but it does show that as far as Obama is concerned, the bloom is off the prose.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.