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First 100 Days: What The Media Are Saying


Today marks the 100th day of Barack Obama's presidency. Since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the national media have used this milestone to evaluate how a president is doing. Below is some of the analysis we found of Mr. Obama's first 100 days from multiple sources around the Web.

Mike Allen, Jim Vandehei and John F. Harris, Politico:

"The reality is that the 100 Days yardstick, even if arbitrary, works rather well for this president. Because of the plunge in the economy, Obama was confronted in his opening weeks with as many consequential domestic decisions in three months as some presidents face in four years. Because of his party's big congressional victories, he has more power to assert his will in a short amount of time than many presidents ever get. And because of the epic reach of his own ambition, he has revealed more about his own leadership style and values sooner than might be expected from a typical president in typical times.

"When Obama took office, a raft of stories talked about how he had relied heavily on Clinton veterans to staff the administration and how he seemed likely to govern with a "centrist" ideology. Three months later, this seems absurd. The reality is that the size and speed of Obama's agenda is as stark a departure from the defensive-minded incrementalism of Bill Clinton as it is from the conservatism of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. "

Joe Klein, Time magazine:

"The combination of candor and vision and the patient explanation of complex issues was Obama at his best - and more than any other moment of his first 100 days in office, it summed up the purpose of his presidency: a radical change of course not just from his predecessor, not just from the 30-year Reagan era but also from the quick-fix, sugar-rush, attention-deficit society of the postmodern age."

Elizabeth Williamson and Neil King Jr., Wall Street Journal:

"The president -- a community organizer and law professor turned politician -- has had relatively little exposure to the corporate world, and he has no prominent business leaders in his cabinet.

"Mr. Obama often relates to the business community from the perspective of consumer or outside critic. In last week's meeting with financial institutions, he reminded them that he too had struggled with credit-card debt. During a late March meeting with top banking executives, Mr. Obama demanded they curb compensation and spending. As if to underscore the point, only water was served."

Cristina Corbin, Fox News:

"From the conscience clause to stem cell research, President Obama has shifted social policy to the left in his first 100 days in the White House. But the reversal of several of his predecessor's regulations has garnered hardly a whimper -- leaving many to wonder how much social issues matter to Americans amid two wars and an economic crisis."

Steven Stark, RealClearPolitics:

"Despite the current hard times, Obama has had a fairly easy first 100 days. Yes, he's impressive on the stump. But he has followed a president so unpopular that he's bound to look good by comparison, especially every time he announces a change in policy. The massive symbolism of his victory also lingers, as does the media's love affair.

"But so far, no one has had to choose between the different interpretations of Obama's election. The stimulus package didn't create a massive new domestic program, after all. More money was spent on old ones - and that fix is difficult to oppose during a severe economic downturn, unless, of course, you're a Republican. Obama's budget proposals also promise great change, but at this point they're only plans and not worth much more than the proverbial paper they're written on."

Robert Reich for the Talking Points Memo:

"Obama's 10-year budget presents the most ambitious and progressive vision of any president since FDR. But when it come to governing, Obama has been cautious and incremental. His stimulus was smaller than even conservative economist Martin Feldstein recommended. He has been unwilling to take over the banks. He won't push Congress on the Employee Free Choice Act. His mortgage relief program is modest. He doesn't want to prosecute CIA torturers. Yet if he wants to be a transformative president, he's got to move boldly. Universal health insurance will be his first big test."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Marjorie Connelly, New York Times:

"Barack Obama's presidency seems to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States. Two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, and the percentage of blacks who say so has doubled since last July, according to the latest New York Times/ CBS News poll.

"These are very tough times, but Mr. Obama seems to have lifted the spirits of a divided and fearful nation. In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 72 percent of Americans said they were optimistic about the next four years. They also recognized that some problems may be too difficult to solve even in four years."

The Economist:

"No one knows if Mr Obama's fiscal firehose will work. Republicans protest that since the money he is spraying is borrowed, he is dooming the country to higher taxes in the future. On April 15th, the day by which Americans must file their taxes, hundreds of thousands of people held "tea party" protests against Mr Obama's plan to double the deficit.

"But most Americans think he is handling the economy well. Most do not mind if he increases the size of government to tackle the crisis, so long as he scales it back when the crisis is over. Most strikingly, around 45% of Americans now think the country is on the right track, up from a miserable 15% before Mr Obama was elected. The stockmarket, too, is up by a quarter since its low point on March 9th."

Scott Wilson, Washington Post:

"Along the way, Obama and his advisers, who had campaigned against Washington's insular politics, made several missteps that undermined their message of reform and helped stoke the capital's partisan traditions. Several believed that a fair number of Republican lawmakers would rally behind the nation's first African American president at a time of crisis, an assessment that proved wrong when only three GOP senators supported the stimulus measure and not a single House Republican followed suit.

"But Obama and his advisers corrected course quickly. Drawing conclusions from a post-mortem analysis that Emanuel conducted of the stimulus battle, senior White House advisers returned to the successful tactics of the presidential campaign, taking the president and his message beyond the Beltway and scaling back his appeals to congressional Republicans. The approach has defined the way he has governed since."

Naomi Klein, The Nation:

"All is not well in Obamafanland. It's not clear exactly what accounts for the change of mood. Maybe it was the rancid smell emanating from Treasury's latest bank bailout. Or the news that the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, earned millions from the very Wall Street banks and hedge funds he is protecting from reregulation now. Or perhaps it began earlier, with Obama's silence during Israel's Gaza attack.

"Whatever the last straw, a growing number of Obama enthusiasts are starting to entertain the possibility that their man is not, in fact, going to save the world if we all just hope really hard. This is a good thing. If the superfan culture that brought Obama to power is going to transform itself into an independent political movement, one fierce enough to produce programs capable of meeting the current crises, we are all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding."

New Republic Online editorial:

"Sen. Charles Schumer of New York recently expressed the key political assumption of the governing Democrats with a frankness that he might not have ventured before the election: The era in which traditional values, a strong foreign policy, and skepticism about overgovernment were winning issues is over. If that assumption is correct, then Obama will move from triumph to triumph.

"If it is incorrect, however, Obama's hubris will prove his undoing. He has given the conservative portions of the country a new energy and a new unity. His apology tour and his preening over "torture" have worried hawks. He has signaled his aggressive intent toward social conservatives by opening the door to human cloning, naming a pro-abortion extremist as his secretary of health and human services, and rescinding rules to protect the conscience rights of pro-life health-care workers. He has healed divisions among economic conservatives by proposing to raise both taxes and spending."

Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Policy magazine:

"The Obama administration has had a strong 100 days. The transition at the State Department seems to be smoother than usual; the various czars and stars of the high powered team of rivals seem to be keeping their rivalries under control. President Obama's first trips abroad have gone generally well, and overall the administration has managed to set a new tone in American diplomacy. The hard choices, of course, all lie ahead and it is not yet clear whether the new administration's Operation Velvet Glove will get more support from allies and more cooperation from adversaries than the Bush administration's Operation Iron Fist. But for now, things are going reasonably well and while it is still very early in the semester, I would give the current administration an A."

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