It's not rocket science to declare that, when running as a presidential incumbent, it's better to run on a campaign of "Look what I did", instead of "Just give me a little more time," i.e. four years.
It's looking like President Obama has been opting for the latter option.
It's said that people vote for president from the inside out, meaning that they assess their own personal situation first, before they consider any state, national or international consequences.
Makes sense. Taking care of Number 1 isn't necessarily a selfish, arrogant thing to do. Who else is going to do it?
The latest jobs numbers came out, and for Obama, less than four months away from Election Day, they could be better.
Just 80,000 jobs added in June. Unemployment rate stubbornly remaining at 8.2%. Economic experts suggesting that the brief recovery may have already petered out.
It's the economy, stupid. Isn't it?
It hardly matters that the president, in reality, has limited influence, by himself, over the national economy and jobs creation. It takes a village to raise an economic child, re: Congress, the states, and the Executive Branch.
But as Harry Truman espoused, "The buck stops here." Obama will, rightly or wrongly, take the hit if the jobs numbers remain sluggish come fall.
The economy, frankly, is the only thing that is preventing the dynamic president from trouncing the stiff, less-than-brilliant, hoof-in-mouth Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Obama has, so far, been forced to run a campaign that is a little more defensive than he would prefer. OK, maybe a LOT more defensive. The president is at his best when he's on the attack, being proactive and framing a vision.
Then again, isn't any candidate?
Obama, in 2008, was the attack dog, going after George W. Bush and assailing the president on his eight-year track record, and then doing a wonderful job in casting John McCain as someone who would simply be a Bush in McCain clothing.
It was a campaign filled with enthusiasm, vision, and that four-letter political word, hope.
2012 sees a much different Obama---one that doesn't resonate as well and one who isn't in his comfort zone.
Obama, until now, hasn't really ever had to defend anything, politically. His has been a career of looking forward and asking that Bobby Kennedy question (as channeled by Teddy), "Why not?"
Now, Obama must ask a bastardized version of that.
"Why not give me another term?"
The president talking to patrons at an Ohio diner, on the campaign trail
It's a question he doesn't relish, and not just because the answers he will get are liable to be plentiful and soaked with battery acid.
It's a question born of weakness, and Obama has never been about weakness in any political campaign.
The message that Obama and his campaign people ought to be drilling into the skulls of American voters, especially the so-called independent ones, is very simple.
Stay the course.
Now THAT can be a message filled with courage, determination and mettle.
Just think of the metaphors, some of them encapsulated in great moments in history.
The first that comes to mind is the brave ship captain, insisting his crew plow forward, because past these storms are blue skies, dry land and a bounty.
It takes more courage and guile, sometimes, to stay the course than to veer off at the first sign of trouble.
The second part of the message is to clearly identify why staying the course is wise instead of stubborn.
But that's it, basically. Obama needs to convince the majority of the electorate that his way is best, despite the seemingly gloomy June jobs numbers.
He needs to stop defending and start defining.
There's a difference, you know.