In this sense, the looming jobs fight offers Obama a chance to further drive down the GOP's standing (if that's even possible). And the more reviled the Republican Party is, the more it raises the possibility that Obama -- even if he himself is saddled with a poor economy and low poll numbers -- might manage to squeak through to a second term in 2012.
"Adult in the room" strategy may not be the right term for this. What Obama is really hoping is that voters in 2012 will end up rejecting the snotty, bratty, tantrum-prone child in the room.
(Note: Headline from the lyric of "Tantrum" from Sandra Boynton's book Dog Train, performed by Spin Doctors on the accompanying music CD)