Halfway through his term in office, President Barack Obama faces a crisis that could most probably doom his chances of being re-elected - he's running out of gas.
According to press reports, the respected Lundberg survey showed that the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline in Chicago, for example, now stands at $4.27 - a 12 cent increase in just the past two weeks. And that, the reports note, is just the average. Several gas stations in Chicago have been selling gasoline for between $4.60 and $4.70 a gallon, according to chicagogasprices.com.
The rest of America is in a similar fix. According to press reports, per-gallon gas prices are more than $2 higher than when Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009.
Up until now the president has been nearly exempt from criticism on this issue of rising prices, despite his punitive and inexplicable six-month drilling moratorium, and many of the regulatory hurdles over which the petroleum industry must jump to stay in business.
With the price of a gallon of gasoline shooting up into the stratosphere, the president's incompetence is now becoming plain for all to see. He simply can't or won't deal with it, so he goes looking for straw men, upon whom he can pin the blame. With Barack Obama, it's always someone else's fault.
That approach, however, cannot cut rising gas prices, and reducing the cost of a gallon of gas is what the people desperately need and want.
The price of the fuel that powers America's family cars, now heading toward an eventual $5 a gallon, has become the price America is now paying for having given Obama the nation's highest office. And the voters are beginning to realize it.
As long as the majority of the voters were more or less out of the line of fire, thanks to the worshipful media Obama was free to appear wise and presidential as he stumbled along his quasi-Marxist way.
His complicated health care plan, filled with hidden booby traps, has yet to be implemented. Its serious flaws thus remain largely unseen by the voters. That time bomb is yet to explode. When it does, the aftermath won't be pretty.
His feeble foreign policy, which has him tiptoeing into foreign conflicts that are really none of our business, has become sufficiently confusing to the public to shield him from the inevitable consequences of his makeshift approach to the affairs of the world around us.
None of these matters have yet hit home with the voters, giving him some immunity in his conduct of foreign affairs. That immunity, however, does not exist in matters that hit Americans where they live - and the price they pay for gasoline hits home and hits hard.
Because the president seems to believe that the United States must somehow remain dependent on foreign sources of oil, the vast supplies of crude oil beneath the U.S. mainland and in Alaska - and the waters north of that state - remain untapped.
Incredibly, Obama is giving Brazil a fortune to finance offshore drilling - and wants to buy Brazil's oil - while refusing to allow our own oil companies to do their own drilling in the area.
None of this makes any sense. But it all spells trouble for Obama's chances of hanging on to the White House in 2012.
He's running on an empty tank. And he can't say, "Fill'er up!"
• Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com, or e-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.