President Obama's poll numbers have sunk to their lowest yet, and the public's despondency about the economy and persistently high unemployment has only deepened. Obama will address a joint session of Congress on Thursday, in what's being built up as a major speech on jobs. Though the public reviles Congress even more than Obama, the president's sinking approval rating casts serious doubt on his re-election prospects. Can he say anything on Thursday to reverse his political fate?

One speech won't do much: Obama's terrible poll numbers "should set off loud warning bells" at his campaign headquarters, say Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake in The Washington Post. A growing majority of Americans say they're not better off than before Obama took office, and dismiss his economic policies as ineffective. He won't win next year unless he truly convinces voters that he's actually making things better, not just orating. "He's not there yet. Or even close."
"President Obama's 'are you better off' problem"

An aggressive speech would put Obama back on top: Thursday's speech is "Obama's last best chance to reverse his downward spiral," says Thomas DeFrank in the New York Daily News. He doesn't have to conjure up a magic jobs bullet — he can win if there's "even modest job-creation progress." But he has to show disillusioned Democrats and independents that he's in charge, which means ditching "the kumbaya routine" and calling out "Republicans to their face for their opportunistic obstructionism."
"Obama's jobs speech to Congress is his last, best chance to reverse..."

And if Obama doesn't go bold, he should go home: "Republicans won't pass anything he proposes," says Eliot Spitzer at Slate. But Obama won't win back voters by complaining about it. "He will need to demonstrate a boldness we haven't seen from him in some time," then challenge Congress to enact his "transformational ideas": A jobs program that employs millions, slaps tariffs on Chinese goods, and allows federal mortgage refinancing. But sadly, if Obama's past is any guide, we shouldn't hold our breath for him to come out swinging.
"Obama's last chance?"