President Obama's remark today that "the private sector is doing fine" may qualify as the most boneheaded thing he's ever said. The White House quickly realized as much in more or less retracting the statement. I'm sure Obama is acutely aware that the private sector is not doing well; if he were, he would have an easy campaign ahead.
But the only thing as annoying as a politician saying something dumb is his opponents making it into something it's not. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said it was an "outrage," as though the president were callously indifferent to the struggles of private businesses and their employees. Mitt Romney, whose wealth is beyond most people's imagination, claimed it proved Obama is "out of touch."
Oh, please. The president is well aware that the economy is not functioning in such a way as to promote business prosperity and the hiring that goes with it. His point was that state and local government layoffs may also hinder growth -- a debatable point, but one many economists affirm.
It's not exactly a surprise to see Republicans pretend Obama really believes the private sector is doing fine. But even though it was an unforced error on his part, it insults the intelligence of voters to portray it as more than it was. It was a mental lapse and a poor choice of words. Those are bad enough.
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