President Obama’s only chance of really accomplishing much in 2014 is to focus on being an executive. By this I didn’t mean Obama needs to try to “lead” more. The idea that some magic combination of speeches, bipartisan poker nights, or displays of leadership is going to get Congressional Republicans to move is nonsensical. Legislatively Obama was a lame duck the day he was re-elected even it he didn’t know it.
Obama’s best hope to do something is to finally take the actual “executive” part of the executive branch more seriously. Up until now Obama’s record of filling vacancies in the federal bureaucracy or judiciary has been fairly pathetic. Keeping the government running is not as glamorous as passing signature laws or negotiating some “grand bargain” but it is still critical. As was shown with the Healthcare.gov roll out, proper management can be just as important as the legislation.
Obama might not be able to get many laws passed but thanks to the Senate Democrats finally changing their stupid filibuster rules he has a change to really shape the state of the government. There is now no excuse for leaving the judicial branch understaffed or financial regulation still not finalized. This opportunity though may only been around for one year because there is a real chance Republicans could take control of the Senate in 2014.
Over the next year the Obama administration should focus on filling every vacancy while they still can.