(As usual, this appears here, thnks to the syndication deal, a week after newspaper release. The current one appears in the paper that carries it and might appear in others if you let the editors know they should run it)
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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, OCT. 9, 2012
THE UNEMPLOYMENT CONSPIRACY
BY BOB FRANKEN
For those who love a good conspiracy theory -- and admit it, you do -- welcome to the Area 51 of politics. This presidential campaign is festering with them from the nut-go.
The “birthers” are still out there, encouraged by Republicans to hold fast to their delusion of a foreign-born Barack Obama, unswayed by documented proof, particularly since they insist the president is really a “Muslim masquerading as a Christian.”
But now they have a new departure from reality. Who would have thought those bland people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics could be part of a sinister cabal that suddenly is cooking the unemployment numbers?
It has to do with their latest monthly jobs report, which shows an unemployment number that finally has dipped below 8 percent, providing a smidgen of good news to President Obama when he really needs it after such a wimpy debate performance.
It apparently wasn’t enough for the Republicans to have their presidential candidate dismiss the news as too little, too late. They also needed to make sure they held on tightly to that all-important part of their base, the wackos.
Hence, the newest conspiracy theory: Obviously the bureaucrats and the White House are in cahoots, and never mind the impeccable reputation for nonpartisanship at BLS. This is clearly a sinister plot to cook the books.
Don’t just rely on Fox News for this one. Even Jack Welch, the legendary ex-head of GE, thinks so. He set the Twitterverse on fire with his suggestion that the latest report was concocted to rescue the president. “Can’t debate, so change numbers,” he tweeted. More on the debate in a moment. Actually, much more. First, though it’s easy to understand why Welch and his fellow Romney supporters would like to discredit the evidence of slightly eased hard times.
Mitt has a quest that is largely defined by percentages. He epitomizes the “One Percenters.” He is still trying to tap dance around his revealing comment about 47 percent of the population. Most importantly, the 8 percent unemployment rate has been fundamental to his campaign to discredit Mr. Obama. To suddenly have the rate fall below the magic 8 means the entire script has to be rejiggered and all of those campaign ads reshot. It’s got conspiracy written all over it.
There is only one way to deal with these flights of fancy, and that is to take one of our own. Certainly we have a good place to start. That would be the presidential debate. Without a doubt, the narcoleptic performance by Barack Obama has only one possible explanation: He was drugged. And not only was a mind-altering substance sneaked into his water, but the perpetrators also gave a healthy dose to the moderator, Jim Lehrer. What else could this have been? The fact that, by comparison, a normally gaffe-prone Mitt Romney looked like a smooth talker proves the point. Someone in his shadowy group of operators slipped Messrs. Obama and Lehrer a Mickey. Or at least some Ambien.
And it worked. It raises all kinds of other possibilities. Maybe the tea party people are on some psychotropic substance, creating a mental state we could call “Freud rage.” And shouldn’t somebody check out Joe Biden for speed before he speaks?
I am sure there are those of you who are rolling your eyes. But what if I’m right? That kind of intrigue is what enables the birthers to continue with their rants and why they are willing to explore reveries of sinister chicanery over job numbers. What if they, too, are right? The good news is that it would demonstrate that people in our government were competent enough to pull off such a subterfuge -- which is probably the biggest proof that their conspiracy theories are nothing but nutty hokum.
© 2012 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.