ROVE’S RECOVERY RESERVATIONS…. Just this week, it seems we’re starting to see conservatives worry about the state of the American economy. And by that I mean, they’re concerned it’s starting to improve in ways that may undermine Republicans’ campaign plans.

Some of this was evident when House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) tried to move the goal posts, arguing that government efforts that create jobs aren’t good enough. Karl Rove appeared on Fox News yesterday to argue that the economy is growing, but policymakers should get no credit for the progress.

“This in many ways is a false debate,” Rove said. “The economy is stabilized compared to where it was a year ago, but is it because the government has spent $200 billion in the stimulus program? I don’t think so.”

“If you take a look worldwide, the Federal Reserve and the central banks have injected $30 trillion into the world economy,” Rove continued, before acknowledging: “Again, the economy is going to recover, no ifs, ands, or buts.”

As a substantive matter, Rove, who’s never demonstrated any credible understanding of public policy on any level, has no idea what he’s talking about. For grown-ups, the fact that the recovery effort stabilized the economy is no longer open to debate — the NYT reported yesterday, citing a consensus among economists, that the economy would not have improved without the stimulus.

But also note, there’s just a touch of fear in Rove’s spin. It’s as if he realizes that his party may be peaking seven months too early, and that a stronger economy in the coming months may change the electoral equation in ways the GOP is unprepared for.

Indeed, National Review started pushing the line yesterday that the economy is starting to pick up in earnest, but that’s awful news because “the Obama deficits” will have to be “paid for by our children.”

What a sad little spin.

All of this may just be preventative rhetoric, laying the groundwork just in case the economy improves significantly this year. Either way, though, it seems Republicans are feeling a little antsy about this, and are starting to mull over strategies to downplay developments that are good for the country, but bad for their campaign strategy.

Something to keep an eye on.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.