When the economy interferes with an election strategy

WHEN THE ECONOMY INTERFERES WITH AN ELECTION STRATEGY…. Roll Call reports today on the latest challenge facing congressional Republicans: what to do about good news.

It’s a quandary for House Republicans: How do you talk about the best job growth in four years when your mantra has been, “Where are the jobs?”

Riding high and hopeful that they can retake the House in the fall, GOP leaders so far are largely sticking to last year’s playbook despite last week’s jobs report showing 290,000 jobs were added in April and 573,000 so far this year.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) even used the “Where are the jobs?” line in a seeming non sequitur last week reacting to the jobs report.

That was odd, wasn’t it? The disconnect makes it seem as if GOP talking points are lacking in flexibility, unable to adapt to changing circumstances. When the economy was losing jobs every month, Boehner would say, “Where are the jobs?” Now that the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs in two consecutive months for the first time in four years, Boehner is still saying, “Where are the jobs?” It suggests the would-be Speaker isn’t paying attention to current events very well.

As Rachel Maddow put it the other day, “Dude, they’re right here. What a weird thing to say.”

In the bigger picture, of course, the problem isn’t rhetorical. Republicans are counting on a weak economy to produce electoral gains on Election Day. But if the economy isn’t especially weak anymore?

“While positive signs are good news, and we expect our economy will recover, it will be because of the hard work and entrepreneurship of the American people — and despite Washington Democrats’ job-killing agenda of more spending, higher taxes and more regulation,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

Ah, I see. It’s a coincidence that the Democrats’ recovery efforts produced a recovery. When efforts to create jobs and generate economic growth actually created jobs and generated economic growth, this was, as far as Republicans are concerned, just a wacky twist of fate. One had nothing to do with the other.

Good luck with that.

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Steve Benen

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.