Brazile encourages Obama to become a "bold executive" because congressional Republicans have unified to obstruct legislation and policies that many Americans support. Given her status as an ally to the president and an influential figure within the Democratic Party, Brazile has carefully framed her op-ed as offering advice for the president, rather than criticism. Nonetheless, her advice mirrors recent liberal and progressive criticism of the president that emerged following the debt-ceiling debates.
Here is a snippet from Brazile's op-ed:
Here are four options available to [Obama] right now:My Take
1. Empower his Cabinet: A story on Thursday reported that the White House is going to begin releasing new job creation ideas each week. This is a good start, but President Obama needs to develop an economic action plan with his Cabinet that he can implement strictly through the exercise of executive power. This has the added political benefit of getting the president's bipartisan Cabinet members like Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on TV, making Republicans in Congress look even less reasonable. And speaking of executive power...
2. Don't be afraid to be an executive: If President George W. Bush used the argument of the "unitary executive" to justify warrantless wiretapping and torture, surely President Obama can wield executive power to put Americans back to work while Congress dithers on. There's a big toolbox available, and the president needs to get aggressive in using it.
3. Flex monetary muscle: During the debt ceiling debate, some legal scholars pointed out that while the Treasury is limited in terms of how much paper money it can print, there is no such limit on the minting of coinage. They jokingly recommended the government could mint two $1 trillion coins and deposit them in the government's coffers to help pay off the debt. While this certainly isn't a real option, it goes to show how much authority the executive branch has on monetary policy.
4. Acknowledge the bully pulpit has changed: Because of the ever-shortening attention span exemplified by Twitter and the 24/7 political news media, the power of the presidency as a mover of public opinion has been diminished. However, the president still has a lot of power to cajole public and private entities into action. Whether that's persuading banks to lend, corporations to hire, or public and private institutions to reorganize, the president needs to hit the phones. Even if cold calls have been fruitless before, persistence is a virtue.
I agree with the heart of Brazile's argument, and I have written a blog post with similar themes on Dissenting Justice. I also believe that if Brazile -- who is a close ally of the president and party insider -- is offering public criticism of (or "advice" to) Obama, then many Democratic Party leaders are probably unhappy with his style of dealing with Congress. In the future, I expect others to make similar arguments. It is unclear, however, whether Obama can or whether he will modify his negotiating style, which has proven ineffective for dealing with a highly partisan Congress.