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.
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.