Ross is one unhappy populist--so unhappy, he reads more like Paul Krugman than the conservative Catholic he is:
In part, this disconnect between country and capital [voters want job creation; the WH is emphasizing immigration reform, gun control and climate change] reflects the limits gridlock puts on governance. The ideological divides in Washington--between right and left, and between different factions within the House Republican caucus--make action on first-rank issues unusually difficult, so it’s natural that politicians would look for compromises on lower-priority debates instead.
That’s the generous way of looking at it, at least. The more cynical take is that D.C. gridlock has given the political class an excuse to ignore the country’s most pressing problem--a lack of decent jobs at decent wages, with a deeper social crisis at work underneath--and pursue its own pet causes instead.
Yet the whys are less important than the whats, as well as less interesting, in that Washington's gridlock has become the commentariat's carousel. Endless, repetitious motion with no real destination. We've all written about it till we're bug-eyed, as readers no doubt are. Yes, there's gridlock, lots and lots of gridlock, so the Obama administration is keeping its head down on immigration reform and--speaking of zombies--mostly avoiding effective Republican majorities in Congress through executive orders (climate change) and relatively small stuff (loopholed gun control).
The doldrums, indeed; an excellent opportunity to launch a major rhetorical offensive on the bigger stuff--chronically high unemployment--and against the biggest stuff--the treacherous opposition, which is blocking all advisable movement on the bigger stuff, which, as Douthat correctly notes, is the electorate's Number One concern.
Republicans, as Douthat also correctly notes, are at their weakest point ever: They are "sticking with an agenda [abortion bans and ObamaCare's repeal] that’s even more disconnected from the anxieties of the average voter than the White House’s second-term priorities."
Hit them. Hit them now, while they're down. Don't wait for institutional dysfunction to become the body politic's accepted norm, in which both parties will suffer. Republicans lack a coherent jobs policy and the most aggressive way to advertise that is for the White House to re-introduce one itself, even though in present circumstances it would never advance beyond the rhetorical stage.
Don't wait for public despondency to set in. That's a hard thing to turn around; it's why FDR habitually hammered the notion of hope and relentlessly proffered government as a positive force of change.