Report cards are ubiquitous on President Obama’s first 100 days. They can be easily summarized. Liberals love the President, Conservatives loathe him, and moderates are agnostic. The main stream media remains his biggest cheerleader (see the May 4, 2009 Time Magazine), while Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck preach to the minority.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the standard with his first 100 days. He became President in a great economic collapse. FDR with the assistance of a new Democratic Congress enacted a series of breathtaking measures without even giving the legislators time to read the bills before voting. Sounds familiar!
Of course, we do not apply the 100 day mark to most Presidents. Presidents Truman and Johnson assumed office upon the deaths of FDR and JFK, so a different standard should apply. President Truman ended World War II though, albeit not in 100 days. President Eisenhower similarly ended the Korean War. However, President Johnson sharply escalated a war, and then lied to the public about his plans for Vietnam, projecting his intentions upon Senator Goldwater.
President Kennedy brought freshness and culture to the nation’s capital, but is measured by 1000 days because he accomplished little of substance in 1000 days, much less 100 days. He signed off on the disastrous CIA Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and sent military troops to South Vietnam, which President Eisenhower refused to do.
President Nixon faced a hostile Congress and his secret plan for Vietnam took 2 years to complete.
President Ford succeeded the disgraced President Nixon, and was immediately caricatured by Chevy Chase and Saturday Night Live. He watched as overwhelming, veto proof Democratic majorities in the House and Senate cut off all funding for the South Vietnamese. He also encountered high inflation.
President Carter pardoned the Vietnam War draft dodgers who fled to Canada, endorsed a Palestinian Homeland (foreshadowing his more recent anti-Israel positions), antagonized Congress, and displayed early signs of his incompetence.
President Reagan welcomed home the hostages, survived an assassination attempt, and cut taxes.
President George H. W. Bush followed President Reagan. Lacking an agenda, he let events control him, including the S & L crisis, although he acted quickly to throw off whatever remained of the Reagan Administration. So much for loyalty! He paid the price in his reelection campaign.
President Clinton announced major, retroactive tax increases, dropped a stimulus bill, and fought the military brass over gays in the military, while Hillary Clinton pursued a then failed socialized medicine bill.
President Bush acted to steady the economy in the collapse of the dot.com boom, cutting taxes.
President Obama has a similarity to his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Both really mean it when they believe in a program. In a city of insincerity, could it possibly be that we should believe what our leaders say? At least that is the case with the substantive proposals. The incidentals, such as high ethical standards, no earmarks, and no lobbyists in the Administration, well that’s still business as usual, which keeps Congress happy.
The whole stimulus bill, not to mention the budget bill, was basically earmarks.
All adminstrations make rookie mistakes at the beginning, such as President Obama's political military director in the White House having Air Force One fly by the Statue of Liberty.
President Obama’s popularity is currently in the low to mid 60%. While much can be made, especially by the media, of his high approval, the reality is that Presidents Carter, Reagan, and George W. Bush enjoyed similar ratings at this time in their Administrations, while Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton were in the high 50%’s. Both Presidents Clinton (37%) and George W. Bush (29%) had relative had negatives at this point, foreshadowing future problems. President Obama's negatives average a dangerous 30% at this point.
He played well to international audiences, especially those of the left. Castro and Chavez received favorable attention, he bowed to the Saudi King, but presented the British Ambassador and Queen Elizabeth thoughtless gifts.
If only words could change European behavior! Apparently, they say they loathed President Bush, and love President Obama, but they do not want any of the Gitmo prisoners. Nor will they materially aid the war effort in Afghanistan.
President Obama’s big test is the fate of Pakistan. He cannot lose Pakistan, such as President Carter lost Iran, for which we are still paying a steep price in the Mideast.
Too early to assess; sometimes, as with President Truman, decades are needed. His recent acts and decisions may over time increase the image of America as an unreliable partner.
President Obama has found true waste in the federal budget. As with most Democratic Presidents, he wishes to substantially cut the defense budget and new weapons programs. The anti-missile program has been cut, and eastern European countries, which have agreed to base some of the necessary radar, may be cast adrift. His Administration is proposing to cut an aircraft carrier unit out of an already substantially shrunken navy.
He’s conflicted about the legal opinions allowing aggressive interrogation/torture. A presidency built on populism and demagogy (especially in Congress) runs the risk of unleashing uncontrollable forces. Both the French and Russian revolutions consumed most of their own.
He must also appease the left of his party, but knows that if a 9/11 occurs on his watch, he will fail.
Thus, he’s closing Gitmo (maybe), but keeping Bagram open.
The Stimulus and Budget Bills unleash the potential for hyper inflation, but the path was marked by President Bush.
The more immediate problem with the Stimulus Bill is that little of it is stimulus or infrastructure investments, but mostly transfer payments.
FDR’s concern was to put millions of unemployed Americans to work. President Obama’s bills pay out billions to a relatively small number of highly paid (union) workers.
The economy and his political leanings point to a major nationalization of the domestic auto industry, the banking system, and the healthcare industry. The result will be Eurosclerosis..
Whenever possible, a reversal of the Bush Administration policies.
A dangerous reliance on Green Energy coupled with opposition to coal and oil. Watch energy prices skyrocket in the future as the economy recovers.
Global Climate Change
Even if Congress won’t act, President Obama has an ace in the hole; the EPA will regulate carbon dioxide emissions pursuant to the power granted it by the Supreme Court last term.
Universal healthcare will soon be jammed through Congress as we join Canada and England in medical rationing.
Card check is delayed, but Labor has been rewarded with a relaxation of federal regulations of unions, protectionism in the Stimulus Bill for steel, and tightening of the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements on government contracts. Mexican trucks are now banned, contra to NAFTA, with Mexico retaliating. Visas for foreign workers are greatly restricted.
President Obama is trying to save what’s left of the once great UAW. It’s hard though when the Administration does not believe in Detroit. Just as Californians, his people drive imports.
The Teachers Unions don’t want Charter schools, Neither does Congress so President Obama signed on.
Elections have consequences, so President Obama quickly reversed the Bush positions on embryonic stem cell research, abortions, and medical conscience.
“Comprehensive immigration reform”, labeled “amnesty by opponents, is on the agenda.
A combination of competence and an ethical morass - perhaps a promise of greatness or an ethical time bomb.
The Reagan Revolution is currently in hibernation if not dead.
President Obama and the Democratic Party are currently in great political shape. Yesterday’s defection of Senator Arlen Spector to the Democratic Party coupled with the imminent swearing in of Al Franken as the Senator from Minnesota will give the Democrats a filibuster proof 60 Senators if they maintain solidarity.
The Democrats just held onto an open House seat in upstate New York. This seat was historically Republican, but now Senator Kristen Gilbertson won it for the Democrats 4 years ago.
A now leaderless, demoralized, and possibly rudderless GOP, lacking the Presidency and either house in Congress also faces a substantial fund raising handicap for the 2010 midyear elections.
President Obama is very disciplined unlike his Democratic predecessor, President Clinton, but Clinton couldwing it when the teleprompter failed.
The 100 Day Grade
Technically an incomplete, but President Obama is well on the path to converting the American economy to the statism of Western Europe.