For the first time since taking office (or even during the latter part of 2008), independents are headed for the exits. Their approval of the president is in a freefall, and White House officials and tea-leaf readers are anxious to stop the political hemorrhaging.

With the president’s major address now the centerpiece of the news cycle, many in the Republican Party may think they’re playing a bit part in this ongoing comedy, but such is not the case. Now more than ever, Republicans can and should play a pivotal role in shaping the potential outcome of this debate. It’s less about the president watching them, and more about the American people watching.

I’ve written on these pages before that the party is seemingly bankrupt of new ideas and initiatives. The electorate seems to think so as well. And while their attitudes are shifting away from Democrats, there’s not much pertinent data out there to say they’re eager to come back to the Republican fold. Something must change for the GOP to manipulate that current paradigm. They are in a unique position to affect this endgame. Obama is desperate for a game-changer to resuscitate his dying patient.

GOP party leaders may caution their rank and file not to take the bait. When your opponent is committing political suicide, don’t help …

But such logic is shortsighted and misses the mark. I’m not sure the correct tactic is for Republicans to dive in and compromise. But they would be remiss not to at least use this vacuum of leadership and offer some concrete proposals of their own.

August will be a distant memory and a wasted victory if Obama ultimately ends up with a “Kennedy Health Reform Act” in the Rose Garden and a few RINOs named Snowe and Collins the only ones in attendance. Though Republicans may feel helpless in this debate procedurally, a far more important constituency is paying attention. And how they handle the fallout from the August recess will go a long way toward restoring their credibility with voters as true solutionists and the antidote to Democrat policies run amok.

Williams can be heard nightly on Sirius/XM Power 169 from 9 to 10 p.m. EST.

Visit .