Neither President Obama nor his advisors seem to understand it, but he is far past the point where he can change his political standing by making proposals and speeches. Sooner or later, every president's standing comes to depend on results, and this president is in desperate need of better results. Making a big speech right now is probably the last thing he should do.
His aides are privately trying to downplay the expectations, but the setting of a joint session of Congress says it all. Such sessions are usually reserved for highly distinguished foreign visitors, or for presidents with urgent or major messages to communicate. Mr. Obama is going to announce a set of ideas he's had since sometime last month, but thought insufficiently new or important that they could wait until his vacation was over.
From what is known of the ideas, he was right that they could wait. Another grab-bag of spending and minor tax cuts of the sort that made up his ill-fated and staggeringly costly stimulus package. Such proposals are unlikely to wow the public, unlikely to pass, and even if they did, unlikely to generate the economic results he -- and the country -- so badly need.
Mr. Obama may be planning to beat Republicans over the head for not passing them, but that is a classic case of dealing with the politics of his problem, rather than the problem itself.
It's too late for that too.