Finally, those eight wonderful words have landed above the fold: "President Obama is trying to regain the initiative."
Or at least he'll begin trying this Wednesday, reports the NY Times, in a "major address on economic policy" in which he'll "set his terms for what [the White House expects] will be another bruising battle" over the budget and debt ceiling. From there, in a "campaign-style tour," the president will engage healthcare, housing, higher education, manufacturing jobs and immigration reform.
It is wise that Obama is compressing these issues into a single but larger narrative of the nation's overall advancement. He squandered a major address on climate change by--ironically enough--singling it out, rather than folding it into a sweeping, reinvigorated agenda of new national directions. Addressing climate change is, obviously, important. But it's not sexy. It is dry, it is byzantine, it is regulatory--it is politically compelling only as a component of a presidentially integrated worldview.
Of course the key word above is political. Obama's economic proposals must be far more political than economic, just as his related proposals must be far more politically than economically related. They must target 2014 as much as debt limits and potential government shutdowns, otherwise victorious budget battles will render no brighter future as Obama heads into the final leg of his second term.
And the key modifiers are ruthlessly, relentlessly political. "The president thinks Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball," said his senior advisor in an emailed preview of the upcoming addresses. "[T]oo many in Congress are trying to score political points, re-fight old battles and trump up phony scandals." Say it, damn it just say it: though generic "Washington" has no eyes, the electorate will prove that it itself has no balls if it permits congressional Republicans--not "Washington," not "too many in Congress"--to further gum up the budgetary works, obstruct progress on jobs, pollute the air, sabotage improved healthcare, etc. etc.
It's all a package. And for now--between this week, that is, and November 2014--for Obama it's either all political, or it's all over.