President Obamaís detractors simply canít have it both ways when it comes to the Bureau of Labor Statisticsí unemployment report.

For the past three years, the presidentís critics have railed against chronic high unemployment that has stubbornly remained above 8 percent. Along the way, they have pointed at the presidentís policies as the culprit behind the numbers.

During that time, the bureau seemed to be a reliable and independent source of information.

In the home stretch of a political campaign, however, even relatively decent news about improved employment in the U.S. is a target for conspiracy theorists who see suspicious activity everywhere they look.

Which means that now the bureau, at least to those critics, is a politically driven machine that doctored the numbers to help the presidentís campaign.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch was among the first to chime in, calling the 7.8 percent unemployment rate suspect, which was quickly followed by other critics questioning the validity of the numbers and the motivation of the bureau.

August unemployment numbers were revised, which is not an uncommon practice to shore up accounting of the jobless rate and reconcile results from employment surveys. But most respected economists say that the bureauís reporting practice contains safeguards against manipulation and is held secret until after the numbers are publicly reported.

So the numbers are as solid today as they have been in the preceding months and years, when they were used as a key argument for why voters should replace Obama in November.

ó The Hutchinson News