White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan called President Obama "gutsy" for his decision to order the strike that ended with Osama bin Laden becoming a corpse. The daring mission to get bin Laden led Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne to praise Obama as "bold.". It's great, of course, to see the president act so decisively in the national interest. It would be helpful, though, if the president wouldn't restrict his gutsiness to signing off on commando raids in Pakistan.
The middle class here in the United States has been struggling for years, and we, too, would benefit from some bold action. To be sure, Obama isn't commander in chief of the U.S. economy in the same way that he is for the U.S. military. And he can't order SEAL Team 6 to force the cooperation of Republican lawmakers in Congress the way that he could order them to dispatch the world's worst terrorist. But it is true that, as president, Obama carries a great deal of authority over a range of issues; if only he would use it.
John Podesta, White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton, pointed this out last fall, when Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives. At the time, Podesta noted that both of Obama's immediate predecessors in the Oval Office, Democrat Clinton and Republican George W. Bush, each used their executive powers to advance agendas over the heads of congressional opponents. "President Obama’s ability to govern the country as chief executive presents an opportunity to demonstrate strength, resolve, and a capacity to get things done on a host of pressing challenges of importance to the public and our economy. Progress, not positioning, is what the public wants and deserves," says Podesta, who today heads the left-leaning think tank, the Center for American Progress.