Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Obama Administration at 100 Days

The 100 day snapshot is an overrated tool by which to judge a president. After all, most of the grand accomplishments of any president take several months if not years to accomplish. For President Barack Obama, it may be even more unfair--he inherited a more difficult situation than any president in this century. From two wars abroad, to an economic meltdown, to an auto industry near bankruptcy, to a nation of overwhelming pessimism, what individual since Lincoln has had a more difficult environment to deal with upon their inauguration?

The said, this president, love him, hate him, or something in between, has not shrunk from attempting big things. His agenda is enormous: reshape the economic system of the country, rethink the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuild the crumbling infrastructure, remake the health care system, and reverse many of the George W. Bush administration's policies from torture to the environment to secrecy. In his first month he passed the biggest spending bill in American history in the form of the stimulus package, and a gargantuan budget left over from the previous administration. He has pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, bring the troops home from Iraq, and made public hundreds of controversial memos from the Bush administration condoning "enhanced interrogation techniques" (or torture depending upon your point of view) of suspected terrorists. He has taken on pirates and won. He has greeted Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega and the Queen of England. He has propped up the financial system and chastised American automakers. All this and more in just 100 days.

The challenges that lie ahead are daunting, perhaps even more daunting than 100 days ago. The financial system is still in crisis, GM and Chrysler are still at the precipice, and North Korea and Iran are as belligerent is ever. And the flu which rages in Mexico and has cropped up in recent days in the United States may pose the biggest challenge of all--an unseen killer spreading sickness and fear throughout the world. And just who do you think America will look to for leadership?

A few years is a much better gauge of a president's accomplishments and leadership than a few months. As we near the end of Obama's first term, it will be much clearer whether this president has achieved most of what he set out to do. For the time being, the 100 days mark is all we have to judge him by.

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