President Obama wasn't pleased with the new jobs numbers, but he urged Americans today to remember the mess he inherited and appreciate the progress.
Using exactly the kind of rhetoric Republicans dismiss as "tired excuses," the president told reporters, "I came in and the jobs had been just falling off a cliff.... It takes a while to get things turned around. We were in a recession; we were losing jobs every month. We've turned it around and now we're adding jobs.... We want to keep that going to the extent we can."
Wait, did I say Obama today? I meant Mitt Romney, six years ago.
For those who can't watch clips online, Romney appeared at a press conference in 2006 and offered a defense for Massachusetts' weak job numbers during his only term in office.
"You guys are bright enough to look at the numbers. I came in and the jobs had been just falling off a cliff. And I came in and they kept falling for 11 months. And then we turned around and we're coming back. And that's progress.
"And if you're going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should immediately turn around, well that would be silly. It takes a while to get things turned around. We were in a recession; we were losing jobs every month, we've turned around, and since the turn around we've added 50,000 jobs. That's progress.
"There will be some people who try to say, 'Well governor, net-net you've only added a few thousand jobs since you've been in.' Yeah, but I helped stop. I didn't do it alone, the economy's a big part of that, the private sector is what drives that, up and down, but we were in free-fall for three years and the last year of that I happened to be here and then we've turned it around as a state, private sector, government sector turned it around and now we're adding jobs.
"We want to keep that going to the extent we can. We're the, you know, we're one part of that equation but not the whole thing. A lot of it is out of our control."
I really shouldn't be surprised, but quotes like these just amaze me. It's almost as if Romney 2006 is endorsing Obama 2012.
The double standards are just extraordinary:
* Does the first year in office count? Romney says his first year doesn't count, but Obama's does.
* Does progress count? Romney says he's a success because the economy went from losing jobs to adding jobs on his watch, but Obama's a failure because the economy went from losing jobs to adding jobs on his watch?
* Does patience count? Romney says it's "silly" to think a chief executive can turn an economy around immediately, except when he's condemning Obama, when it's fair and reasonable.
* Do inheritances count? Romney says what matters is that jobs were "falling off a cliff" when he took office, but when jobs were really "falling off a cliff" when Obama took office, voters aren't supposed to care.
* Do excuses count? When Romney said, "A lot of it is out of our control," it's fine; when Obama says the same thing, it's not.
* Does the public sector count? Romney said he helped turn the job market around by relying on, among other things, the "government sector." But if Obama wants to do the same thing, the president is a misguided, big-government liberal.
Honestly, Obama could recite Romney's comments, almost word for word, right now. And if he did, Romney, Republicans, and most of the media would reject it as unpersuasive, borderline desperate, spin.
The facts, however, are plain for anyone who cares about them. When Obama took office, the global economy was on the verge of collapse, the domestic economy was contracting at a level unseen since the Great Depression, the nation was hemorrhaging jobs, the American auto industry was collapsing, and we were shoveling money at Wall Street.
Nearly four years later, the economy is growing, America is adding jobs, the American auto industry is thriving, and the Obama administration made sure the Wall Street bailout was paid back.
By Mitt Romney's own stated standards, President Obama has been a success. To argue otherwise is "silly."