They are talking about a new, more incremental approach, championed by former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to fulfilling campaign promises on energy, immigration and on closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The new White House chief of staff, Pete Rouse, is far more steeped than Mr. Emanuel in the culture of the Senate, where comprehensive approaches to some of these issues have fared poorly. White House officials hope Mr. Rouse’s expertise will help navigate smaller measures through the chamber…

White House officials haven’t laid out their plan for moving energy legislation. But Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), an author of the comprehensive climate change and energy bill that passed the House but died in the Senate, offered this scenario: Democrats should be able to muster support for establishing minimum standards for the percentage of renewable energy that utilities must use to generate electricity, he said…

Under the incremental scenario, the White House would embrace Republican proposals to step up immigration law enforcement and border and port security in exchange for measures such as the DREAM Act, which would give illegal immigrant children a path to citizenship through military or public service. White House officials could add an agricultural-workers program to that bill but put off dealing with the bulk of illegal immigrants until later.

The closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison could advance in baby steps.