When it comes to spotting omens, it's hard to imagine a more dramatic one. President Obama was giving a speech when the presidential seal suddenly fell off his podium and landed with a thud. The "latest defector from the Obama camp," a magazine quipped.
The latest but not even the last of the week. National Security director Jim Jones earned that distinction by quitting Friday, joining the stampede to the exits.
If the White House had wheels, they'd be flying off. As they did with Jones, officials claimed each departure was routine, proving they're no good at faking the obvious. So many top players don't abandon winning teams.
The recent parade of setbacks makes this stretch one of the rockiest in Obama's rocky presidency.
Troubles are metastasizing on every front, from a dangerous crisis with Pakistan to an economic stall that features a triple threat of high unemployment, a declining dollar and possible inflation. The "I" word -- Incompetence -- raised its head with reports that government checks worth millions were sent to dead people and prisoners.
Meanwhile, a commission Obama established on the Gulf oil spill accused the White House of taking an "overly casual approach" to learning how much oil was actually gushing and charged it kept the worst-case estimates a secret. His health care bill is an election-year albatross, with Democrats running from it as demands for exemptions flood in from corporations and unions.
The relentless storm of bad news is etched on Obama's face. Appearing after yet another dreary jobs report, he carried a stricken and defeated look.
His typical spin on economic progress lacked conviction and he delivered his standard attacks on Republicans with half a heart.
The president needs to take his own advice. Faced with a midterm drubbing, he recently demanded that dispirited supporters "buck up."
You first, Mr. President. It's time to lead by example.
The nation can't afford a demoralized leader and no president has the right to wallow in self-pity.
Still, the way in which Obama chooses to fight the blues matters most. Merely pasting a smile on won't cut it, nor will filling the empty seats with more yes men make his Titanic seaworthy.
He inherited a recession and two wars, but he knew that was the deal when he ran. He won because he vowed to fix the problems, but has failed and lost the trust of the majority of Americans over his major policy choices.
By the same token, political recovery begins the instant he decides finally to listen to public concerns. The way forward is fairly obvious and within his control.
Voters across the spectrum are frightened and angry at out-of-control spending. So he should do something about it.
He can start by keeping his promise to go through the budget "line by line" looking for waste. And he can make it clear he won't raise taxes next year.
Obama doesn't want to change course, but soon he won't have much choice. The election is going to deliver a more balanced Congress, perhaps even GOP control.
If he has any survival instinct, he won't wait until the results are in before realizing voters are doing him a favor. He should seize the moment to get on the right side of public will.
He could begin today by dropping his plan to raise income taxes on the top 2 percent of earners in January. Then he could take out the green eyeshades and red pens to start making those serious cuts on waste.
That would be a twofer. He'll be doing the right thing. And he'll be a happier president when he works with the majority of Americans instead of against them.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.