Unemployment, which is high but generally dropping, ticked up a tenth of a percent in May to 8.2 percent. This is not good news. There were 69,000 jobs created—a big improvement over the months when the country was hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of jobs—but still not what economists had hoped for or expected.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the soon-to-be GOP presidential nominee, called it "devastating news."
Devastating? Seriously? It's a disappointment, to be sure. But "devastating" is a word used to describe rubble-making crises, things like Hurricane Katrina or the 9/11 attacks. It sounds over-the-top from anyone, but in Romney's case, the hyperbole is worse, since it just ends up underscoring Romney's fatal flaw.
Romney's not a passionate guy. He has a very calculating manner about him—and that's not necessarily a bad thing, since it means he's capable of making tough decisions without being overly influenced by emotion. This is a man who withdrew from the 2008 Republican presidential candidate race in February of that year, and endorsed Sen. John McCain soon afterward. This is not the behavior of a man given to delusion or hysteria. This was the behavior of a man who took an objective look at his own situation and concluded he could not win the nomination. So he wasn't going to continue on a quixotic and ultimately losing quest.
It's that sort of businesslike calm—or coldness, if you will—that is both Romney's greatest asset and liability. He fails to connect with voters in large part because he appears to be driven by cold statistics instead of compassion, or indeed any emotion. But he also can use that to his advantage, casting himself as the person able to make hard decisions during tough times.
Calling a one tenth of 1 percent uptick in the unemployment rate "devastating" makes Romney look ridiculous. It makes one wonder how he'd react in a far worse crisis. But mostly, it appears phony. Romney already has trouble convincing people he has a solid core of principles, since he has changed his position on gay rights and abortion. Pretending to be Panicky Man doesn't help.