Discuss as:

Obama agenda: Legacy work begins

The Hartford Courant: “Using the bully pulpit to urge a response to a tragedy unlike any he has faced in office, President Barack Obama comes to Hartford on Monday in a last-ditch attempt to revive Democrats' faltering efforts to pass stricter federal gun legislation. His speech at the University of Hartford marks the second time that the president has visited the state since the Newtown shootings locked the nation's attention on gun control. Obama first came here days after the Dec. 14 massacre that killed 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Obama's speech on Monday afternoon at the university's Chase Family Arena is closed to the public, but open to students, faculty, staff and guests invited by the White House. This visit is sandwiched between Connecticut's enactment of new gun restrictions and expected congressional action on federal gun laws.”

The AP calls the move an effort to “boost the chances of gun legislation that could be in jeopardy this week.”

Politico calls it a “make-or-break week on guns.”

“It’s now or never for the White House,” Politico’s Allen writes. “President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda is in doubt as Congress returns to Washington this week for a spring and summer stretch that could go a long way to define the scope of Obama’s legacy.”

“President Obama's decision to include certain Social Security and Medicare changes in his budget headed to Capitol Hill this week will reinvigorate a debate congressional Republicans are eager to have,” USA Today writes, adding, “Obama's budget reflect earlier concessions made in negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but those negotiations stalled late last year. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that the president's budget is a goodwill gesture intended to restart talks with Republicans.”

But as Politico writes: “President Barack Obama might think he’s offering a compromise budget on Wednesday when he formally unveils it. But Senate Republicans — a group Obama will try to woo with a dinner that night — are expected to vigorously push back, casting the 2014 spending plan as another attempt to raise taxes to fuel more deficit spending. Communication staffers for Republican senators met Thursday to map out how they would respond to the budget and to organize a united front.”

On immigration, National Journal writes, “The liberals believe they can threaten to walk away from an immigration bill that falls short, because they assume that in a few years they will get another chance at a better deal. Political pressure to resolve immigration will only increase on Republicans, these liberals argue. ‘The wind is at our backs,’ said Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigrant-advocacy group America’s Voice.”

George Condon in National Journal writes that the power of the bully pulpit is overrated: “Even as the reviews come in from Denver, the message from the pulpit will likely be found lacking in result. That is what almost always happens. It was the case even before President Theodore Roosevelt coined the term. Certainly it was the case the first time a president hit the road to pressure Congress. That was Andrew Johnson with his famous two-week ‘swing around the circle’ by train when his Reconstruction policies came under attack in 1866. … The method of transportation and the speed of communication have changed—but not the supreme confidence of presidents that they can use words to move votes. For Ronald Reagan, it was his oft-stated warning to lawmakers, ‘When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.’

“Reagan was called the Great Communicator, but his attempts to use his eloquence to move Congress most often came up short. That is the conclusion of George C. Edwards III, the presidential historian at Texas A&M University who has conducted the most in-depth study of the bully pulpit and who suggests this White House should lower its expectations for the current exercise. ‘It is true for all presidents. They virtually never move public opinion in their direction,’ Edwards tells National Journal.”

USA Today: “It's a time-honored presidential tradition to reward political friends and campaign contributors with plum ambassadorships to Caribbean islands and glittering European capitals. The practice is getting fresh attention as President Obama weighs second-term appointments for the donors and fundraisers who help collect more than a $1 billion for his re-election. In the 2012 campaign, 773 individuals and couples raised at least $50,000 for Obama, who is expected to fill about 30 political positions in his second term.”