Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - President Obama was no doubt hoping his address to the nation Tuesday night would pull him out of the deepening political hole he's been sinking into over the past year.

But this clearly wasn't the best time to say the State of the Union is strong. Not when the U.S. economy remains weak, stocks have taken a beating, millions of people are out of work, wages are stagnant, new home sales fell for the second month in a row, and factory orders plunged in December by a shocking 4.3 percent.

The economic foundations of our country are crumbling. The government has fallen more deeply into debt than any time in its history -- to nearly $17 trillion -- as the president calls for more spending in the naive belief we can spend ourselves into prosperity.

It's harder to find full time employment. The once-mighty U.S.

labor force has shrunk to record low levels as millions of long-term unemployed people have given up looking for jobs that do not exist.

Americans have turned depressingly pessimistic about the future of our country and their lives. Nearly two-thirds of our fellow citizens now believe that "things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track," according to a poll released this week by The Washington Post.

Obama went before Congress last night to tell us how we're doing as a country under his presidency, having just received a failing job approval score that was lower than in any of his previous State of the Union addresses.

The Gallup Poll's closely-watched daily survey Monday reported that only 41 percent of Americans polled like the job he's doing, while a muscular 52 percent disapprove of his performance as our nation's chief executive.

The Post provided a more embarrassing report card on his presidency. Just 37 percent still "say they have either a good amount or a great deal of confidence in the president to make the right decisions for the country's future," but a hefty 63 percent said they do not.

At this point in the sixth year of their presidencies, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan enjoyed 60 percent approval ratings that Obama can only dream about.

A number of reports in the past week said that Obama and his advisers were struggling over his address, trying to come up with a new agenda to save his presidency and his party from expected losses in the November midterm elections.

But it's been evident for a long time that Obama hasn't a clue how to get our underperforming economy working again.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.