"Like Al Gore Taking Credit for the Internet"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 18 2012 3:54 PM

"Like Al Gore Taking Credit for the Internet"

GREER, S.C. -- That's the approved zinger of the day, in case you were frantically trying to load WikiPedia and missing political news.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Mitt Romney told an enthusiastic crowd of more than 300 at Wofford College this morning that Newt Gingrich taking credit for job creation while was House Speaker was like “Al Gore taking credit for the Internet.”
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Romney doesn't often go after other candidates this directly in his vanilla pudding stump speech, so that's the headline. He's attacking Gingrich more than he's attacking Santorum -- write your pre-debate stories now! But doesn't this attack underline how meaningless the "job creation" resume item is? We now fall into three wormholes when this comes up.

1) No one in government should claim credit for jobs created. This feels like residue from the stimulus, and the conservative backlash against it. At a Newt town hall yesterday, one voter warned the candidate that he couldn't vote for anyone who said he "created jobs." This is the attack Romney is making, too.

2) Because Bain Capital destroyed some jobs, it can't claim that it created any. This is the one that conservatives can't believe they're hearing -- creative destruction is a totally accepted, uncontroversial economic concept.

3) Government can never pass any regulation that restricts any job growth, ever. Again, this isn't new, but it's been roid'ed up by the backlash to the Obama administration.

Any discussion of "job creation" risks slipping into one of these voids. Defend the concept that government action can help create something, and you're validating something that liberals do. It's a surreal debate.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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