This White House isn't very politically savvy, is it?

The White House strategy failed, and it failed pretty spectacularly. It reminds me that I’m hard pressed to think of a White House strategy that hasn’t failed in the last several months. The springtime budget negotiation, the one where a government shutdown was narrowly averted and Obama bragged about overseeing the biggest single-year domestic spending cut in history, was a failure too; a success, one supposes, in the sense that the government did not shut down, but another situation in which Obama’s back was pressed to the wall by congressional Republicans.

Let’s see, what else? The immigration speech from May? What, you don’t even remember it? If it was at least partly intended as a sop to Latino voters before the campaign really revs up, it seems to have left them largely unmoved—Obama is below 50 percent with Latinos in some surveys. OK, how about the more recent Midwestern jobs swing? Probably did no damage, but certainly did no good…

Watching this White House over these last several weeks has been like watching a time-lapse video of an apple rotting. We’re supposed to believe now that the jobs plan to be announced next month will change everything. Maybe. But what needs to change is the way the White House approaches politics. To what? To a simple, blunt, and deeply real-world truth: He’s not nearly as bad as the other guys, who are crazy. That’s all he’s got. That’s his “brand” now. If his people keep insisting on trying to package him the way they did three years ago, he won’t have even that.