Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The bump in President Obama's approval polls, after Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden, didn't last long. It was shot down by a $4 gallon of gas, a 9-percent unemployment rate and an economy that has slowed to barely 2-percent growth.

Thursday's Gallup poll puts his job approval-disapproval score at 48 percent to 43 percent, down from mid-level scores in the 50s after U.S. Special Forces eliminated the terrorist mastermind.

The president's re-election poll numbers this month aren't anything to write home about either, even when he's paired against an unknown Republican candidate.

"Given a choice between Barack Obama and an unnamed Republican, 43 percent of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for Obama and 40 percent are more likely to vote for the Republican," writes Gallup Poll analyst Lydia Saad.

"This (statistical dead heat) is essentially unchanged from April and February, when voters' preferences were evenly split," she says.

It isn't for lack of trying. Obama and his White House strategists have been throwing flip-flops at the electorate lately, particularly at independents -- who have deserted him in droves -- hoping they would soften his ultra-liberal, big-spending image.

As gasoline prices have squeezed consumer wallets -- flattened might be a better word -- the White House announced last week that Obama was stepping up oil drilling permits in the Gulf, offshore areas and Alaska's oil-rich fields.

After two years of steadily rising gas costs, when the president was tirelessly promoting alternative biofuels and the like, he and his advisers suddenly became born-again oil supply-siders, a move that they said was brought about by the need to meet growing demand and drive down prices.

Before the switch, however, as gasoline prices were crushing our economy and there was talk of a double-dip recession, the Harvard law graduate said this was not a job for oilrigs and hardhats but for the U.S. Justice Department's lawyers, asking them to investigate the oil companies. That led to the umpteenth investigation of big oil, with Democrats on Capitol Hill grilling a panel of oil company CEOs and getting the same answers they've always gotten: "Senators, we need to lift the moratoriums and licensing delays and drill for more oil." Duh!

Presto! The White House, with its eyes firmly fixed on the polls, a declining GDP growth rate and rising unemployment, is now calling for more drilling.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.