President Obama is floundering. His poll numbers are crashing. His base is testy. And Republican candidates in the midst of a spirited campaign convey more energy and freshness than the president, who has spoken too often and accomplished too little. Moreover, Obama has already let on that the proposals he will offer at the joint session of Congress will be less than earth-shaking.

The Post reports:

Americans have been hearing a lot from him. For months, he has discussed some of the same jobs proposals he will detail in the speech, mentioning them as recently as this week at a Labor Day rally in Detroit.

With the unemployment rate locked in above 9 percent, voters are weary of words. Another high-profile speech is likely to underscore how little has changed since Obama said in his first joint-session address, a month after taking office, “Now is the time to jump-start job creation.”

At some level it is comical. We have a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, have spent trillions (between the Bush and Obama administrations) in stimulus money, have near-zero interest rates, and he wants to spend another $300 billion in money we don’t have to “create” jobs.

In a real sense he comes across as less on top of it than either of the two GOP front-runners. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both have a coherent vision (pretty much the same one, actually): Lower taxes, reduce spending, lighten regulation, open up trade and encourage rather than bash the private sector.

By contrast, the defining characteristic of Obama’s approach is now confusion. What he has tried hasn’t worked, so he’ll do more of the same? He wants to extend the payroll tax cut but keep the threat of higher tax rates over the heads of investors and small businesses. He pulls the EPA’s ozone regulation but silences talk that he might suspend other job-impairing regulations.

He’s not really fooling anyone. This is a political speech intended to lay the foundation for “Congress won’t cooperate with me” excuse- mongering. But frankly, the public doesn’t want more boondoggle spending either. They have lost confidence in his ability to manage the economy, and telling us his hands are tied by those ornery Republicans is hardly going to boost confidence that he can get things done.

At the debate last night Romney put it this way: “We selected as a president a guy who had never worked in the private sector, a person who’d never been a leader, who’d never been able to get anything moving, and — and we said, ‘Let’s let this guy run the country,’ and he’s — he’s just over his head, and right now, he’s flailing about. We’ll see his plan tomorrow; it will be more like the plans in the past.” I suspect three-quarters of the country would agree with that assessment.

One final note: In the debate Wednesday night Romney and Perry bickered over which one had the better record of creating jobs. In fact, Republicans should put aside such silly talk. The only ones among the candidates who have created lasting private-sector jobs are Romney in his Bain capacity, Michele Bachmann in her small business and Herman Cain in his pizza empire. They would do themselves and the country some good by pointing out that the entire mindset that government creates jobs (especially in a short time frame) is poppycock. Republicans should know better.