Obama's Ultimate Weasel Word: Create or 'Save' 2.5 Million Jobs

Transcript from press conference of Pres. Barack Obama, Feb. 12th, 2011:
CNSNEWS.COM: Mr. President, when you first took office you promised to create 2.5 million jobs by January, 2011.  But the Labor Department report issued yesterday indicates that in fact 1.7 million jobs were lost during that period.  Why did your plan fail?

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Ah, but it didn't fail. To the contrary, we succeeded beyond all expectations.  You misquoted our promise.  We said we would create or "save" 2.5 million jobs.  And a report prepared by my White House team being distributed to you demonstrates that had we not taken the bold steps we did back in 2009, we would by now have lost 5.8 million jobs.  We therefore in fact saved 4.1 million jobs, more than 50% greater than the number of jobs we promised to save.  So our program has been a huge success.  Let's see, Keith, you had a question?
KEITH OLBERMANN:  Yes, Mr. President.  You are so wonderful, sir.  Please comment, if you would, sir.

The "or save" makes Obama's plan virtually fail-proof. No matter how many jobs are lost, Obama will always be able to claim that things would have been much worse were it not for his plan. To his credit, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd pointed out the verbal sleight of hand on today's Morning Joe.

When Obama first floated the plan in his Weekly Address via YouTube on November 21st, he said [1:20 in] "I have already directed my economic team to come up with an economic recovery plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011."  

That was 2.5 million "more" jobs.  And that's how it was reported, as in the AP's November 22nd story whose headline read "Obama economic plan aims for 2.5M new jobs by 2011." But, as CNN reported, the Obama transition website later "clarified" that he meant "create or save" 2.5 million jobs.

The nuance didn't slip by Chuck Todd, speaking during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe.

CHUCK TODD: But I love the create [air quotes] "and save."  Or save jobs. This isn't about creating 2.5 million jobs. I mean they want that number out there, and if people accidentally think it's 2.5 million [new] jobs, they won't care.

Will the rest of the MSM pick up on Obama's economic prestidigation?

Note: over at the Early Show, Dean Reynolds failed to pick up on the nuance.  He reported that Obama's new plan "would create over the next two years over two million new jobs."

View Early Show video here.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.