He's right that anything Obama says will be used against him to the extent that it's useful.
[W]hile it is true that midday cable television viewership is low, that rationale completely disregards the media world in which we live, where even the smallest comment can be amplified into a national headline in minutes....And he's right that Obama's remark — "the private sector is doing fine" — is most useful if Romney can "sell" it as "a window into what the president really thinks."
Then there is the reality that gaffes such as the one Obama made Friday are quickly — and, usually, effectively — used by the other side to score political points....
[Obama's] remark plays directly into the story that Republicans are trying to tell about him — that he is a big-government liberal who thinks the answer to all problems is expanding the federal bureaucracy and who lacks even a basic understanding of how the private sector works.It's not a matter of Romney using an out-of-context remark to "sell" a "story that Republicans are trying to tell." Put the supposed "gaffe" phrase back in its context — including the follow-up context in which Obama explained himself. I did that work here. Obama meant to say what he did, and he stood by it. He is pushing a bill in Congress that would lavish federal money on state and local governments which, he said, have laid off 450,000 workers. He told us the private sector is doing fine 3 times in his original statement, because that proposition is a fixed point in the argument for pouring more money into state and local government employment (not "expanding the federal bureaucracy" as Cillizza put it).
In his follow-up remarks, Obama repeated himself. He didn't use the phrase "doing fine" again, but he said there was "some good momentum in the private sector" with "4.3 million jobs created," so the private sector isn't the "biggest drag on the economy." He then pushed his plan for big federal spending to bail out state and local government, which he called "taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see." And he wanted nothing done to help private business, because that isn't where the problem is.
Now, that's a fully fleshed out economic position. Not a gaffe. It's not merely "fodder" to be exploited by Republicans who want to tell their story. It is Obama's economic plan. It's not tax relief, which Obama comes out and says is unwarranted. And it's not fundamental reform of state and local government of the sort that Gov. Scott Walker has successfully undertaken in Wisconsin, which has worked to avoid laying off government workers. That's something Obama wouldn't even mention, in the very week that Walker won the recall election. Obama is promoting a plan to prop up the states that are not doing the kind of hard work that we've done in Wisconsin and thus reinforcing what is happening in the most irresponsible states.
There now, maybe some of you think I'm just telling a "story that Republicans are trying to tell," but I'm using the totality of Obama's remarks and the actual plan that he's pushing in Congress. I think Obama has committed to an economic plan that stands in stark contrast to the message of the Wisconsin recall: that people want responsible reforms and not profligate spending on government employment.