There's a very useful idiom: "The wheels are coming off."
That's not a description of the campaign of President Barack Obama. Yet. But if the past two weeks are any indication, it's time for the campaign to check the lug nuts.
It started a couple of weeks ago when Vice President Joe Biden forced Obama to join him in endorsing gay marriage. The White House - through the campaign staff - tried to pass the word that Biden's statement on a Sunday show was a trial balloon.
When the Earth did not cease spinning on its axis, the story went, Obama decided it was safe to proclaim his modest support for the concept.
That was Mule Muffins, of course. Anyone who watched White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's stumbling through an answer even he didn't believe the day after Biden dropped his "Joe Bomb" knows the White House wasn't prepared to deal with that issue at that time.
Then the campaign decided to take aim at Gov. Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital. First they went after a business that Bain purchased while Romney was running things, but then had to shut down.
Problem was, Romney had been gone for two years by the time that had happened
Well, not a problem for the Obama campaign. They went right along and focused on another business that Bain purchased and then had to shut down. As any producer of negative political ads would have done, they found a suitably aged, suitably angry man who had lost his job and blamed it on Romney.
This was seen not so much as a campaign against Romney, but an attack on the capitalist system of economics.
The Democratic Mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, went on a Sunday show and called the attacks on Bain (as well as an idiotic plan by a GOP operative to revisit the issue of Rev. Jeremiah Wright) "nauseating."
Whoa! Check, please!
Booker was supposed to be on TV as a surrogate for Obama and here he was saying the central theme of the campaign made him ill.
The campaign forced Booker to recant in a YouTube video later that night - which was immediately dubbed a "hostage video" by an unsympathetic press corps - but the damage had already been done.
Booker has since been joined by former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. Alexander Burns wrote in Politico.com that Rendell called "President Barack Obama's Bain attacks 'disappointing.'"
This was after another major African-American political figure, former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. had said "[As a] matter of fact, private equity is a good thing in many, many instances."
Steven Rattner, former economic advisor to Obama and the Administration's auto czar during said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, "I don't think Bain did anything they need to be embarrassed about."
The Washington Post quoted Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) writing:
"Warner weighed in on the debate [saying Bain was] 'a valid topic of debate' but also praising it as 'a very successful business' that did 'what they were supposed to do.'"
The most telling response to the Obama campaign's focus on Bain Capital was by Newt Gingrich..
On CNN's Piers Morgan program the other night Morgan challenged Gingrich saying Gingrich had attacked Bain, so wasn't he being hypocritical?
Gingrich answered that he didn't think Obama should attack Romney through Bain for one simple reason: He had tried it, and it didn't work.
If Obama is looking for Democrats on the Hill to run to his aid, he may be disappointed. In a major piece in Politco.com by Manu Raju who led it thus:
"He doesn't call. He doesn't write. He doesn't drop by for a visit. That's what some of the most senior Democrats in Congress are experiencing from President Barack Obama these days."
When things are going well with a President, Members of the House and Senate of his party are happy to bask in the reflected glow, even if that glow is 2.8 miles away from Capitol Hill.
There will come a time as the House and Senate races heat up when it will be every man and women for themselves and while Democrats might not run away from Obama, they are certainly not going to run into a burning building to save Obama's hide.
Running into a burning building, by the way, is exactly what Mayor Cory Booker did to save a neighbor last month. According to CBS:
"Booker arrived home to discover his next-door neighbor's house on fire, and rescued a young woman trapped upstairs by carrying here through the flames, suffering second-degree burns in the process."
In the matter of street cred, Booker trumps Obama.
Maybe he can lend the Obama campaign a jack.