Rich Galen

The political geniuses around President Barack Obama have a problem: They do not - DO NOT - want this election to be a referendum on the President.

And, for good reason. According to the three-day Gallup tracking poll, Obama's job approval is back down to 41 percent. Two months ago his approval bottomed at 38 percent, but he has not been at 50 percent job approval since May.

Gallup goes on to compare Obama's dismal performance rating with his predecessors. In December of their third year in office here's where they were:

-- Eisenhower (1955) 75%

-- Nixon (1971) 50%

-- Carter (1979) 53%

-- Reagan (1983) 54%

-- HW Bush (1991) 51%

-- Clinton (1995) 51%

-- W Bush (2003) 58%

No elected President in the past half-century has entered his re-election year underwater in approval.

Let's look at how the Obama campaign has chosen to shore up these numbers.

When the Super Committee was struggling to find any common ground to reduce deficits by just $120 billion per year, President Obama not only didn't provide leadership, he ran and hid so he couldn't be blamed for the inevitable failure.

He went to Guam and Australia, just about as far away from Washington as he could go and remain on the surface of the Earth.

Last week Obama went to Scranton, Pennsylvania to give a speech. Scranton, birthplace of Joe Biden and regional home to the Dunder Mifflin paper company.

Yesterday, he went to Osawatomie, Kansas - seriously - to give what has been billed as the first major speech of the 2012 campaign. Teddy Roosevelt gave a big speech in Osawatomie a couple of years ago and the White House thought that would send a strong signal as to Obama's new populist stance.

Rather than opening his campaign with a rousing call for Americans to unite, he set a strong tone of division by blaming Republicans - including Ronald Reagan - for the nation's economic woes.

His message was "Some people have too much. We need to take from them and give to people who don't have enough."

That doesn't sound so awful, until you begin to think about (a) who decides how much is too much; (b) how those who have too much got too much; and, (c) who decides how much of that too much will be taken away and given to those who have too little.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at