Exploding Government?

I’m pretty much down with Jonathan Bernstein’s evaluation of the “private sector economy is doing fine” remark by the president as being a true gaffe that probably won’t much matter when the votes are counted.

But Jon Chait makes a point about the Republican efforts to prolong scrutiny of the gaffe–especially the companion line about the public sector suffering–that’s worth noting:

[I]t’s a dangerous fact for Republicans to let loose into public circulation. The charge of exploding the government is central to the Republican indictment of Obama. Even if Romney thinks he can win by endorsing the reduction in government employment and charging Obama with trying to reverse it, he is conceding vast ground on the basic terms of debate. The charge of wanting to restore government employment to its 2008 levels is far less potent than the charge that even many swing voters have come to accept. And Obama’s true defense would never have received this level of press attention had Obama not gaffed while trying to explain it.

That’s true. The entire Republican Party has been claiming incessantly since 2009 that Barack Obama is presiding over a vast, European-style, maybe even Soviet-style, expansion of government. If that’s so, why is public sector employment dropping? Sometimes it’s hard to sustain a lie when so much more lying is necessary to keep it up.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.