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Apr 23, 2009

Will history record that President Barack Obama was among America’s greatest presidents? Not the first hundred days but the next thousand will tell the tale.

By James R. Gaines

Given the ecstasy of the wedding, Barack Obama’s honeymoon has been brutally short.
Already stung by assorted epithets, including “socialist,” “communist” and “fascist,” the new president was barely done parrying teabags from the newly exercised American Right and a wacky secessionist feint from Texas when liberal columnist Naomi Klein came in with a hard left cross.
Writing in The Nation, Klein expressed progressives’ common sorrow at the discovery that the new president is not, after all, the Messiah, not Lincoln, not even Desmond Tutu, but just another president of the United States. Dizzy after their post-inaugural “hoper-coaster” ride, she wrote, Obamaniacs had been reduced to “hopesick…hope fiends” suffering from a really bad “hopeover.”
What a difference a hundred days make.

“A Huge Turnaround”

No president ever came to office with higher expectations, and except perhaps for FDR in 1933 and Lincoln in 1861, none has ever inherited a more daunting agenda: two wars, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, recession and unemployment, financial collapse, global warming—and much, much more.
By any measure, the first months of the Obama administration have been almost frantically productive. Legislation already passed in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—a.k.a. the “stimulus”—includes massive aid for state and local governments, the biggest infrastructure program since Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, a large down payment on health-care reform, and the biggest new investments in education and basic science along with the largest tax cuts in American history.
He has done this while reaping a bumper harvest of good will all around the world. “Almost overnight,” says former Sen. Gary Hart, now a national security consultant, “he has changed—I’m tempted to say the face of America, for obvious reasons, but also the image of America in the substantive sense, and that’s a huge turnaround for our country.”
After seven years of war in Iraq, there is a plan for withdrawal, and the proposal for escalation in Afghanistan has few critics, in part because better ideas are in short supply. To support his “Af-Pak” policy, overtures have been made toward Iran, China, India and Russia, the indispensable players in the region.
Every president makes mistakes, and this one is no exception. Some foreign affairs experts, such as former Council on Foreign Relations president Leslie Gelb (see interview, page 6), fault the president for a shortage of both policy specifics and strategy. The new spending plans are by every estimate (including that of Obama’s budget director) unsustainable, and his plan for shoring up America’s banks has played to mixed reviews. Jonathan Alter, senior editor at Newsweek, gives the Obama administration a B-minus. Others would not be as generous.

The Danger of Impatience

To rescue the banking system, the idea was to use stress tests to distinguish between healthy and troubled banks. That could turn out to be a distinction without much difference: the IMF just announced that the banks could be facing another half-trillion dollars in loan write-offs.
Another risk is a short-fused public. The fevered news cycle of the blog and cable world, which discourages patience, has infected mainstream media as well. At day 70, for example, the Economist offered this interim appraisal: “Mr. Obama has been slow to get the full measure of the presidency. He has failed to establish firm priorities and has all too often let events dictate his agenda.”
Its less than comforting conclusion: “The president cannot yet be described as a failure.”
Putting aside the chattering classes and cable screamers, however, most Americans seem to think Obama is doing just fine. His approval rating has remained between 60 and 65 percent ever since Inauguration Day, with very little variation.
Especially given the fullness of his plate, recent American history would tend to second that majority opinion. At this point in his administration, Bill Clinton was nudging historic lows in post-Watergate presidential approval ratings, thanks in part to his decision to take on the issue of gays in the military. By the 100-day mark, John F. Kennedy had already committed his most disastrous failure, the abortive invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
As this history suggests, a great deal can change after 100 days.

The Judgment of History

The next thousand days, far more than the past 100, will determine whether President Obama takes his place with Washington, Lincoln and FDR or falls to the middle of the pack. He could even fulfill the Economist’s dire predictions for him, adding his own mistakes to the ones that got the country into this mess.
Nothing about the presidency is predictable except the inevitability of surprise. The course of wars is fraught, the financial and economic crises could easily get worse, his ambitions could be frustrated by partisan politics and the future will bring challenges that are yet to be imagined.
If Barack Obama’s performance in office during the past 100 days says anything about history’s ultimate judgment of his presidency, however, it is this: if he fails, it won’t be for lack of effort.


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Already to Page 8 and Flyp managed to avoid any note of the Obama subtext agenda. Remarkable. “O” has gained for the central government a dominant share of GM stock, fired its CEO and essentially ordered what will be produced; obtained major control of GM policy by the Auto Workers Union, bypassing the public’s legal rights of its bond holders, while advancing the union’s holdings over the public’s and maintaining the union’s featherbedding privileges, gained control of Chrysler Corp. and delivered much of it to Fiat control, gained control of the majority of investment banks, ordered the printing of trillions of dollars which automatically devalued the savings and earnings of most American citizens, awarded numerous private corporations and local governments with those trillions – placing those institutions directly in the debt of the federal central government, stacked the cabinet and staff with people of revolutionary, marxist background, while in process of turning the US into a one-party, socialist semi-dictatorship through control of the census, absence of immigration policy, and while reconstituting the entilre federal court system with hard left ideologue jurists; All beneath a veneer of beneficence and above numerous escape hatches and fall guys to blame for any failed policy implementation. All in 100 days. In a country based on individual freedom and decentralized governments based on local and private control. Truly remarkable, and none mentioned here? So, who and what runs Flyp?

Wallace Sampson
May 15, 2009

Barack seems to be led by strong moral principles human in the first place from our point of view in Europe, his actions semm to be completely in accord to what he said he woulmd do and the image of America is being washed from so much bitterness and hardness a positive global image, that’s good news, isn’t it?

paulo lobo
Apr 30, 2009

Joe, joe, joe ! Surely you jest? HAVE YOU SEEN THE BUDGET AND DEFICET FOR THIS YEAR ? i TGINK, NOT!!!! IT IS HOW MANY TRILLION JOE, NOT WHAT P A R T OF A TRILLION AS BUSH HAD, BUT H O W MANY OF THEM GIANT SUCKERS. SUCKERS IS A GOOD DEFINITION, AS THEY WILL ACT LIKE SUCKER PLANTS ON YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR CHILGHREN AND YOUR NEPHEW’S KIDS ,FO YEARS TO COME, YA BIG DUMMY T H I N K !!!!!!!!!!

tony caudill
Apr 28, 2009

Thank God, for he is President, since Bush put us 1/2 trillion dollars(468 billion to be exact), in debt. Everyone will see the Truth of the forsight of such a Glorious President. No other President has had the forsight, nay the brilliance, nor the gumption to spend up to 19 times more( 10 trillion dollars) without knowing what is in the bill. That is a clear example….it took Bush 8 yrs to run up 468 billion.He has done over 5 trillion in the first 100 days. Which if not makes him the greatest, will get him in the Guiness book of records. Remember that if one wishes to accomplish the agenda of an Obama administration, bankrupting the people financially will force people to have subject themselves to Government control. You should be thankful! …so when is he resolving that B.C.S. issue he spoke on? P.S. Transparency: means you cant see it, but then again he know you dont need too.

Joe Smith
Apr 28, 2009