Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The First Hundred Days

I'd like to apologize for succumbing to the temptation to grade President Barack Obama's first 100 days of office. But since the rest of the world is doing so, I might be just as presumptuous and comment on his performance so far....not that he gives a damn about what I think or even reads this little outpost in the blogesphere. But if he does read this, by all means, Mr. President, drop a comment or two. After all the emails "Barack" sends me asking for another donation to the DNC, I feel like he and I are old buds.

The whole notion of the value of the "first 100 days" is interesting. After Napoleon escaped from exile on Elba in 1815 he reestablished power for 100 days in France until the Duke of Wellington crushed the Emperor's forces at Waterloo in June of 1815. More recently when President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933 he pushed a large number of bills through Congress in his first 100 days, during the depths of The Great Depression. That set the benchmark for all subsequent American chief executives.

The number "100" has a certain symmetry and quasi religious symbolism.. There were 300 Spartans who defended Thermopylae from the invaders during the Persian War. Moses and the Hebrews wandered the desert for 40 years before reaching Canaan. Jesus prayed and fasted in the desert for 40 days, Lent lasts 40 days, and when God destroyed the world he caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights. All even numbers, no silly fractions to worry about...exact and precise. And the first 100 days of a president's term has attained that type of mythological stature.

It makes little sense to go into the particulars of what things like the stimulus package, the Iraq timetable for withdrawal, the troop buildup in Afghanistan, or most of the legislation proposed or signed into law. To judge that at this moment is as ridiculous as judging the winners and losers of this past weekend's NFL draft one day after the fact. We won't know those winners and losers for a couple of years. And so it is with any of the effects of these first 100 days of the Obama administration.

There are opponents and pundits who are screaming doom. There are supporters who yell success. The bottom line is, we cannot grade a president's performance like we would a sixth grader' s ability to grasp algebra or social studies. Time and perspective are required, and necessary.

So if you were looking for a letter grade from ain't gettin' one.

President Obama's greatest accomplishment, so far, is that he has given most Americans a sense of hope- that he can change things, that the economic bleeding has, if not stopped, has slowed to a point where we can prepare for a recovery. Wall Street's bear market has become a bull market again, poised for a slow climb. There will be dips and drops at any sign of bad economic reports, but it appears that buyers will out number sellers in the near future.

Much like Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama is a skilled orator, a great communicator, and above all, he appears to be a strong leader for a nation and world that is in desperate need of stability and direction. All and all, so far, his is a job well done.

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