The House has canceled votes for the rest of the week. The Senate looks likely to do the same. The federal government is shut down entirely. And that means the president of the United States essentially has the seat of U.S. power all to himself.
Lucky President Obama. As Washington hunkers down in its worst snowfall in decades, he gets to work at home. And having his office a flight of stairs away gives him some rare opportunities.
Here are nine helpful suggestions on how the president, a notorious multitasker believed by many to read his Blackberry while asleep, can make the most of the D.C. blizzard:
1. Start all over on a health care reform bill, just as the Republicans have suggested. It'll blow their minds.
2. Commandeer a snowplow from the city fleet, dig out Washington's Penn Quarter and out-Scott Brown the truck-driving senator by topping his campaign pitch line. "I'm Barack Obama. I'm from Chicago. I drive a snowplow."
3. Settle the score with the media, permanently. In his latest lament over the 24/7, he-said, she-said, cable and Internet media environment, Obama told Senate Democrats last week to turn off CNN, Fox News and the blogs. This is his chance. A delicately worded executive order could eliminate all cable news channels, Internet-based outlets and other ill-favored media so all that remains is a print-only reincarnation of the Washington Star, whose only writer is liberal columnist E.J. Dionne. Finally, some peace and quiet.
4. Hold a press conference every day the government is down. By knocking out three or four at once, he could bank his total for the rest of the year.
5. Prepare for post-snowpocalyptic life in the nation's capital. Draft a pothole restoration and recovery plan -- then claim every repaired pothole as a job saved or created.
6. Compose the next State of the Union address as if it were a movie trailer. More people will pay attention and Republicans will be far more willing to cooperate if every line of the speech begins with, "In a world where ..."
7. Kiss and make up with C-SPAN. Perhaps the channel is still miffed that it didn't get to cover the backroom health care negotiations, but that's nothing a content-sharing agreement can't fix. Obama could give them unfettered access to health care talks. In exchange, Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer could blog every day on WhiteHouse.gov about what C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb has for breakfast. How's that for access?
8. Plan Valentine's Day with the first lady. But keep it simple this year. A helicopter ride over the Himalayas, dinner at The French Laundry and matching vanity jet packs is tasteful, but not excessive.
9. Actually start taxing tea. That'll give the Tea Partiers something to cry about.