So President Obama wins another week. More “small ball” executive orders generated some good press and positioned him against a “do-nothing” Congress. Even the defeat of his infrastructure jobs bill could be spun as part of this web: a Republican Congress that would rather beat Obama than help the country. A new poll showed a six-point bump in Obama’s approval rating. A new Web ad from the main super PAC supporting him offered a devastating trailer of coming attractions against Mitt Romney. All of this evidence of mildly reinvigorated electoral prospects for the president.

Meanwhile, the Republicans had another weak week. Herman Cain at first didn’t remember any accusations from, or legal settlements with, female employees, but then he was certain enough to blame Rick Perry for orchestrating the allegations. Until Cain backtracked. (I don’t think I’m the only one who wonders what this sort of unsteady bravado says about what Cain would be like in a real crisis. When the red phone rings late at night, would he answer and then slam it down with a profanity?)

Little noticed: The Romney camp also released an ad. It’s more of a press release really, and a bit of a snooze, but it continues the Perry-Romney feud on immigration and furthers the Republicans’ internecine warfare.

Two winning weeks in a row for Obama don’t mean that much. Lately I’ve been taken by a newer metaphor for a presidential race. Instead of a marathon, I see it more as a conquest of Mt. Everest. Under that construct, Obama has not even reached base camp yet. But he is finally getting his gear ready, and the Sherpas have started pulling together.

The real ascent and its dangers lie ahead. The weather still looks deadly. (Electoral statistician Nate Silver predicted this week that Obama will likely lose to Romney, and Jon Huntsman for that matter.) But one step at a time.