Obamateurism of the Day

We interrupt our parade of SOTU fumbles to bring this curious moment from yesterday, in which Barack Obama engaged voters in a Google+ “hangout,” ie, a video town hall. One voter asked Obama to explain why he has not curtailed the issuance of H1B visas in the engineering field, as her husband has not been able to find work in his field despite having 10 years of experience. Instead of commiserating with the woman about the situation — and perhaps blaming it on those rich so-and-sos sitting on capital instead of expanding investment — Obama instead tells the woman that while he doesn’t know what her husband does, Obama’s sure he shouldn’t be unemployed … at least according to his own understanding of the economy:

During his Google+ hangout Pres. Obama tells a woman that her husband shouldn’t be unemployed from the growth he has seen in the economy. Obama said he finds it “interesting” because he is getting “the word” that someone in her husband’s job field “should be able to find something right away.” …

The woman wants to know why Obama is extending visas for foreigners when there is tons of demand for American jobs by Americans.

“I don’t know what your husband’s speciality [is], but I can tell you that there is a huge demand around the country for engineers,” Obama told the woman.

A “huge” demand for semiconductor engineers? Perhaps, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the computer and electronic products industry (the employment category in which this job falls) at 36th in employment growth for November to December, with only 200 jobs added nationwide. That was an improvement over the previous three months, which averaged a decline of 1900 jobs a month in that period.  Small wonder the wife asked why H1B visas continued to be issued in this industry.

We’re left with one of two conclusions. Either Barack Obama knows this industry like the back of his hand, better than the BLS, and the husband is some kind of slacker, or Obama doesn’t have the grasp of the economy that he thinks he does. Give Obama this much credit: at least he refrained this time from assuming out loud that the husband acted stupidly.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!

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