What is to be done? Not much, if we're asking what the current administration can do before January 20. Obama has had eight years to do - and not do - the things which really had to be done.
As I understand it, anything substantive he might now accomplish, with an executive order or interim appointment, would be erased as soon as he's gone.
The only concrete thing he could do which would survive him is to pardon existing whistleblowers (although this would not protect the next ones, or the republic, going forward).
He actually could shut down Guantanamo (before it becomes an off-shore political prison for Americans). Since its existence itself is a war crime, executive fiat is enough for the task.
There are any number of moves he could make while still president, including immediately halting his ramped-up deportation programs and the use of drones in countries with which we are not at war, but the relief they could offer, while hugely welcome to the victims, would only be temporary.
He could speak out, and not just to help dress in sheep's clothing the monster he condemned until just two days ago (and who did what he could to rob him of his humanity).
There are plenty of things he could say to us all, beginning with, 'forgive me'.
In the last few days we may have learned that much of Obama's popularity was a fiction, potentially minimizing the effect of a bully pulpit, even one delivered from a dying administration. Yet if he were he to address the nation now, with honesty, transparency, and contrition, on the policies with which he abandoned his most fervent constituencies, and, presumably, his own principles, for eight years, he would at least leave office with personal integrity.
Most of these are merely nostrums, unlikely to have a long-range effect on the survival of the republic - and by extension, the world - but there is one thing Obama could do.
The Democratic party has still less popularity than he does, and also should be recognized as the greater culprit. It should be dismantled altogether.
Obama should immediately summon a major, transparent, national gathering of true progressives, with large minds and great hearts, an assembly which would be open to public input, to discuss, found, and organize a replacement, one which would eschew the failings, the remoteness, and the fatal dysfunction of the one which has now been spurned by the people it has itself spurned for so long
The image is of Karl Marx speaking before at assembly which founded the International Working Men's Asociation, at a St. Martin's Hall meeting, London, 1864.
[the image is from The Socialist Review]