When I first saw this headline from Politico in my feedreader:

White House Plans Hardball

I assumed that Rahm Emanuel had added Chris Matthews to the daily messaging conference call.  After all, the White House also apparently plans This Week with George Stephanopoulos as well as CNN appearances by Paul Begala and James Carville.  Why not plan Hardball, too?

Well, silly me.  I forgot that the White House doesn’t have to plan Hardball, or Countdown for that matter, as both Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann come fully pre-programmed for Obama leg tingles and completely irrelevant obsessions with George W. Bush.  No, Politico meant that the White House means to play hardball (lower-case H) on the stimulus package by issuing press releases on unemployment numbers:

Pushing back against the unanimous House Republican vote against President Obama’s stimulus plan, the White House plans to release state-by-state job figures “so we can put a number on what folks voted for an against,” an administration aide said.

“It’s clear the Republicans who voted against the stimulus represent constituents who will be stunned to learn their member of Congress voted against [saving or] creating 4 million jobs,” the aide said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the lawmakers will have to answer to their constituents.

Uh-oh!  I bet that has Republicans worried.  Or not, as a moment’s consideration will make clear.  First off, present unemployment has nothing to do with this package.  In fact, one can argue that we’ve already had Stimulus #1 in the TARP perversion, and it hasn’t helped a bit. The numbers Obama plans to release actually prove that point.

Also, the package passed the House and will likely pass the Senate, which means that unemployment numbers in the future are what’s at stake.  Will the White House keep producing those figures in May, June, and July?  They’re making a big bet on a huge longshot, and they can expect Republicans to point to increasing unemployment throughout the year as the government confiscates more and more capital for its massive spending programs.

Maybe the White House will recognize the folly of this stimulus package and suspend it for complete overhaul, preventing the Senate from voting to approve it.  Then we could look forward to this headline:

White House Stops Countdown

That would be the headline of the month.