The jobs numbers released today were atrocious. Only 115,000 jobs were added, well short of the expected 168,000. Worse, another 342,000 workers dropped out of the labor market. Republicans had good reason to pounce.

Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement that read in part:

Today’s report is more evidence President Obama’s policies aren’t working for families and small businesses, and aren’t creating enough jobs to get our economy back on track. Where are the jobs? Families are stuck: the wages of those fortunate enough to have a job are stagnant, but they’re paying more for everything from gasoline to groceries. . . . But rather than address these challenges, President Obama has wasted time trying to distract the American people with gimmicks like the Buffett tax hike and fake fights over noncontroversial issues. Election-year gimmicks might win the president some votes but they won’t create American jobs.

And that is the rub, isn’t it? Not only can the president not sustain the argument that he’s turned straw into gold, but his tone, rhetoric and gimmickry increasingly seem off-key. Obama risks underlining Mitt Romney’s basic theme: The president isn’t up to the job.

Romney hit Obama on an appearance on Fox News. He said, “We should be seeing numbers in the [range of] 500,00 created per month. This is way, way off from what we should be seeing in a normal recovery.” His camp was chomping at the bit to send out an open letter to the president published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It read, in part:

Welcome to Ohio. I have a simple question for you: Where are the jobs?

As we enter the fourth year of your term, unemployment is over 8 percent and has been for your entire term. Nearly 23 million men and women are unemployed, underemployed or are no longer even looking for work. In the face of such challenges, many Americans have simply given up hope.

Romney acknowledged that Obama inherited an economic mess. But as he put it, Obama has had three years now and the job situation remains terrible. No wonder the president wants to go to spike the ball on killing Osama bin Laden — he’s getting trounced on the economy.