Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” President Obama told his cabinet, announcing that he wouldn’t just be “waiting for legislation” from the obstructionist Congress to push his agenda. The announcement buoyed progressives, who have long urged the president to act boldly on his own authority, and provided new fuel for right-wing fulminations about “dictatorship” and “tyranny.”
To kick off the strategy, Obama traveled last week to North Carolina to launch one of his “manufacturing innovation hubs”, convened university presidents to talk about making college more affordable; announced the first group of “promise zones”, designed to focus federal attention on at risk communities; and scheduled a meeting with CEOs to gain commitments to hiring the long-term unemployed.
Obama’s pledge echoes his “We Can’t Wait” campaign leading into the 2012 elections, in which the president similarly announced a range of executive initiatives. That effort mostly demonstrated how difficult it is for any executive action to gain public attention.