Flood of US job losses swamps Obama's good news

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    President Obama shakes hands with a newly graduated police officer Friday as Columbus, Ohio, Mayor Michael Coleman (left) looks on.
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In one of the sadder juxtapositions of the young administration, President Obama traveled to Ohio Friday – the same day that the Labor Department released its unemployment figures.

Mr. Obama went to Ohio to tout the emerging benefits of his $787 billion stimulus plan. Because of one of the plan's law-enforcement grants, 25 police cadets in Columbus were able to graduate and move into jobs that had been slated to be cut.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department announced that the economy slashed 651,000 jobs last month.

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Limited government

You do the math: 25 jobs saved vs. 651,000 lost. It was a stark reminder of just how limited federal power really is in a highly diversified $14 trillion economy.

Of course, the federal money will save thousands more jobs. Government can ease the effects of recession. One hopes it can stabilize the financial system. But it can't match the job-creation and job-destruction potential of the private sector.

By contrast, what presidents do better than any CEO – especially these days – is inspire confidence.

Change in tone

After a dour start, Obama has begun to employ the language of realistic optimism, letting people know he understands how tough it is while pointing to a brighter day.

But he has to choose his days. On Friday, the jobs math was just too disheartening.

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