Pretty much from the minute Newt Gingrich branded President Barack Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history,” I’ve wondered why liberals didn’t immediately tout that statement as a compliment. Government spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has doubled just since 2008 and more than 10 million people have been added to the food stamp rolls — but isn’t that a positive in the liberal worldview? Ten million more beholden to government and likelier to vote for the continuation of the welfare state? What’s so bad about that for politicians who want to continue to preside over that welfare state?

‘Course, they couldn’t acknowledge that as the true motivation for their satisfaction with the swelling of SNAP, but they could still spin Gingrich’s statement as a sign that the president is doing something right. I’ve outlined an idea for such spin in the past:

Strictly speaking, the term “food stamp president” doesn’t include a value judgment. A person could apply the label to the president without automatically meaning it is a negativefact that food stamp enrollment has increased under Obama’s watch. Increased enrollment could actually be an argument that the food stamp program is effective, that it’s flexible and responsive enough to meet the increased needs of out-of-work new enrollees during a down economy.

Guess Jesse Jackson had the same idea (h/t NewsBusters and Greg Hengler):

Those comments represent a reversal of sentiment for Mr. Jackson, who initially accused Gingrich of “name calling” for pointing out the facts about the president’s food stamp record. Jackson also misses some crucial facts about what leads to human flourishing (hint: it’s not handouts!). But at least his remarks represent an attempt to stand by liberal policies; I’ve actually gotta hand it to him for that.