If I were advising the White House right now, I would encourage President Obama to take advantage of the end of this year’s election cycle—the next fifty or so days—to immediately try to change the subject, in a big way.
The Obama administration should act right away to use its executive powers to take steps to deal with long-ignored issues that need to be dealt with for the good of the nation.
This cannot be done quietly. To change the media narrative, issues acted upon will have to be controversial enough to dominate the news. President Obama should embrace good progressive public policy while expecting—indeed, hoping for—a massive outcry from the wing-nut section of the GOP.
Controversy is not the enemy here. And issue clarity—or issue polarization—can be helpful, if the administration seizes the initiative and chooses public policy issues on which to fight.
The president should go big right now, undertaking a quick series of high-profile executive actions on issues that the Republican House has not acted upon, and will never pass. President Obama should be very visible, with photo ops and speeches and social media and grassroots backup and appearances on Between Two Ferns, moving hard and fast from one executive action to the next.
Here are a few suggestions. (And I’m sure people as smart as John Podesta and David Axelrod can think of a couple more.) Whatever is decided, act big—and act fast.
Why not draw the line in the sand this week?
1. Start with serious immigration reform. Announce a serious executive action, to make up for the fact that Beltway Republicans will not act on this critical issue.
Go to the South Valley of Texas and/or the Arizona border, and make appearances with some of the little girls and boys who are trying to come to the United States to avoid their dangerous, hard-scrabble lives in Honduras and Guatemala.
Pick a fight with Rick Perry and/or Jan Brewer, if need be, and be glad that you’re in a high-profile fight with them. Let the right-wing come unglued—which they will!—and don’t back down when Steve King and Louie Gohmert and Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin start calling for impeachment. Not only will the wing nuts threaten impeachment over perfectly legal executive actions, and their actions dominate the airwaves, it will turn off independents and moderates, and create a no-win situation that leaves most of the Republican presidential candidates twisting in the wind. (Remember: they can’t get sixty-seven pro-impeachment votes in the Senate, any more than they could when Bill Clinton was impeached—and the foolish, overwrought attacks on Clinton helped clarify to most Americans that the GOP was the big problem in DC.)