* Yes, Obama has a “pen and a phone.” Katrina vanden Heuvel lists a range of things Obama could do right now by executive order to move his agenda forward. Good idea: a “good jobs” executive order.
* Solid point from Ed Kilgore: If Dems continue to embrace a “keep and fix” Obamacare message, it will only leave them better positioned if the law improves over time, which is looking more and more likely.
* However, Jonathan Bernstein also makes a convincing case that the health law is more likely to be a political wash over time than anything else, and that “Obamacare” may remain unpopular even if the law itself doesn’t. (Yes, that’s possible. Read the item.)
* A new Quinnipiac poll finds the GOP ballot matchup lead has shrunk to one point, and Dems hold a small edge in which party is preferred to control the House and Senate. Maybe the law won’t lift Dems, but maybe it’s also premature to predict Obamacare’s rollout will be a huge winner for Republicans in 10 months?
* Michael Tomasky gets at the question at the heart of widespread GOP panic about Chris Christie: Is there any other Republican who has a remote chance at getting to 270, given the “profound and disturbing” internal problems the party faces?
* Francis Wilkinson gets it exactly right on Darrell Issa: He’s very effective, as long as you recall that real Congressional oversight isn’t the actual goal here.
* The New York Times’ Michael Shear reports that John Boehner’s hiring of a new immigration expert bodes well for reform, but describes the GOP’s emerging principles this way:
The goals, which are expected to be outlined in detail in the next week, are likely to include bolstered border security and enforcement inside the country, fast-track legalization for agricultural laborers, more visas for high-tech workers, and an opportunity for young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children to become American citizens.
Hmm. What about some form of legalization for the 11 million, rather than just the DREAMers? Multiple other reports indicate Republicans may well go there. I guess we’ll soon find out.
* Good points from Eugene Robinson on the silence of Washington officials in the face of the contamination of West Virginia water and the power of the coal industry.
* Good work from Conor Friedersdorf contrasting Obama’s newfound leniency on pot legalization with the positions in the National Drug Control Policies set by the bureaucratic anti-drug warriors remaining in his administration that set actual policy.
* And on the indictment of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife: Check out the extraordinary list of items that would be subject to forfeiture if there’s a conviction.