April 29, 2009: President Obama’s First 100 Days

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

White House Photo collage

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Key events in Obama’s first 100 daysAP, 4-27-09
  • CBS Poll: Blacks support Obama 96-0: Not surprisingly, President Obama’s approval numbers on the 100th day are very high. At 68%, the latest CBS/NYT poll shows widespread support for President Obama as a person, and the job he is doing. When you remove the Rasmussen daily tracker, which skews negatively for Obama for some reason, Obama’s average job approval is in the high 60s. But the CBS poll also broke the numbers down by race. Obama’s 62 percent approval rate among whites is very impressive. Among blacks, Obama’s job approval number is 96 percent, with zero disapproving. Four percent register DK/NA. – Moderate Voice, 4-27-09 CBS News
  • Poll Suggests Obama’s Term Is Altering Views on Race: 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. Despite that, half of blacks still say whites have a better chance of getting ahead in American society, the poll found. Black Americans remain among the president’s staunchest supporters; 70 percent of black respondents now say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 34 percent of whites…. – NYT, 4-27-09
  • As Nation’s Mood Lifts, Can Obama Capitalize?: The most striking finding from the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll released today is the change in the public mood. Since Barack Obama was elected president in November, the pervasive gloom of 2008 has given way to a sense of hopefulness and considerably more optimism about the state of the country. How much of this change is directly attributable to Obama’s leadership rather than the nascent signs of improvement will become fodder for the cable shows as the president’s 100th day arrives this week. What’s important is that he now enjoys the power of public confidence. He will need all the backing he can muster as he moves into what is likely to be an even more difficult phase of his presidency…. Among Democrats, 71 percent say the country is going in the right direction — the first time since 1999 that figure has hit the 70 percent mark. Among independents, 44 percent are positive — the highest since the fall of Baghdad in the spring of 2003. Republicans are far more pessimistic, with 27 percent saying the country is going in the right direction — but that’s still double what it was in February. – WaPo, 4-25-09
  • Poll: Public thinks highly of Obama: His opening months in the Oval Office have fortified Barack Obama’s standing with the American public, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, giving him political capital for battles ahead. As his 100th day as president approaches next Wednesday, the survey shows Obama has not only maintained robust approval ratings but also bolstered the sense that he is a strong and decisive leader who can manage the government effectively during a time of economic crisis. Since October, the percentage who see Obama as a “strong and decisive leader” has jumped 12 percentage points, and his image as an effective manager has gone up 11 points. Now, 56% say he has done an “excellent” or “good” job as president vs. 20% who rate him as “poor” or “terrible.” An additional 23% say he has done “just OK.” His excellent/good rating on national security is 53%. On the economy, it is 48%. – USA Today, 4-23-09
  • RCP Poll: President Obama Job Approval: RCP Average: +30.3% Approve 60.8% Disapprove 30.5%
  • Congressional Job Approval: RCP Average: -25.5% Approve 33.8% Disapprove 59.3%
  • Direction of Country: RCP Average: -24.1% Right Direction 34.7% Wrong Track 58.8%
  • Adviser: Obama’s First 100 Days Most Productive Since FDR: Senior White House adviser says the president’s 100-day marker is not Biblical and the administration won’t rest after it’s reached the milestone. The Obama White House doesn’t “subscribe to the legitimacy” of the 100-day metric for presidential progress, but is mighty satisfied with the new president’s accomplishments. “This isn’t Biblical,” a senior White House adviser said of the 100-day marker. “You don’t do 100 days and rest.” Even so, this senior official, a long-time adviser to the president who spoke on the condition he not be quoted by name, said “you would be hard-pressed to find another administration that’s done so much in such a short period of time. It’s been a very productive 100 days.” For most of the 45-minute session the White House adviser spent with a small group of reporters, the suggestion that Obama had been more productive than Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first 100 days (the president whose scale of activity first generated 100-day assessments of subsequent presidencies) was left on the table. When asked if that was the proper interpretation, the adviser said Obama’s had been the most productive since FDR…. – Fox News, 4-21-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • The President’s 100th Day: NYT, 4-29-09
  • 100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility: Barack Obama opened his presidency by drawing an unflinching portrait of the challenges. Then he set about turning those perils into possibilities.
    In a dizzying dash to the 100-day mark, Obama made a down payment on the changes he’d promised and delivered a trillion-dollar wallop to wake up the moribund economy. He put the country on track to end one war, reorient another and redefine what it means to be a superpower…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • 100 days in, Obama is a man of many hats: From reluctant CEO to chief U.S. medical adviser, President Barack Obama showed how many hats he wears at a news conference marking his 100th day in office on Wednesday. Shrugging off critics who say he has taken on too many tasks in his young presidency, Obama said all the issues had landed in his lap at the same time and had to be dealt with simultaneously…. – Reuters, 4-29-09
  • Obama calls first 100 days tense but fruitful: Marking his symbolic 100th day in office, President Barack Obama told Midwesterners Wednesday: “I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made but I’m not satisfied.” “I’m confident in the future but I’m not content with the present,” the president told a town-hall style event in a St. Louis suburb… – AP, 4-29-09
  • Welcome to FOX News’ Review of the First 100 Days of the Obama Administration: FOXNews.com is offering a week-long series of stories leading up to President Obama’s 100th Day in office. – Fox News, 4-23-09
  • Sizing Up Obama’s First 100 Days: The most important thing we now know about Barack Obama, after nearly 100 days in office, is that he means to confront that way of life directly and profoundly, to exchange sand for rock if he can. Whether you agree with him or not — whether you think he is too ambitious or just plain wrong — his is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time…. Time, 4-23-09
  • For the Media, 100-Days Story Represents the Perfect Swarm: It is, says Joe Klein, a “flimsy journalistic conceit.” But that didn’t stop him from writing Time’s cover story on President Obama’s first 100 days, part of a vast wave of calendar-driven coverage washing over the media landscape. “One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the impatience of the press,” says Klein, who noted the conceit in his story. “People cast judgment too quickly on Obama. I’m remembering back to how impatient I was with Bill Clinton, in an unfair way.”… – WaPo, 4-27-09
  • 100 days: the test of a leader or a journalistic ‘Hallmark holiday’?: As President Obama prepares to mark his 100th day in the White House, he acknowledged Monday that the nation might not reach one of his major environmental goals for a while longer: 15,000 days, or 41 years. That’s how long it could take for the nation to cut its carbon emissions by 80%, Obama said during an appearance at the National Academy of Sciences. His caution plays into the administration’s efforts to deflate expectations about what he reasonably could have solved by Wednesday. The White House initially downplayed the 100-day benchmark — one of his senior advisors, David Axelrod, called it the “journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday.” But now, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says, the administration is “playing along.” On Wednesday, Obama will take part in a town-hall-style event in St. Louis and a prime-time news conference from the East Room of the White House. Every major broadcast network but Fox will air the news conference live…. – LAT, 4-27-09
  • First 100 Days: Social Policy Takes a Left Turn Under Obama: During his first 100 days as president, Barack Obama’s reversal of contentious social regulations has garnered little attention — leaving many to wonder how much social issues matter to Americans amid two wars and an economic crisis…. – Fox News, 4-27-09
  • John King: Second 100 days will be bigger test for Obama: As introductions go, it has been a fast-paced, fascinating first 100 days: an ambitious domestic agenda aimed at reinvigorating the economy and the government’s reach into its workings, and several provocative steps on the world stage that, like at home, signal a clear break from the previous administration. It is the second 100 days that will give a much more comprehensive test of President Obama’s approach, his resilience — and his effectiveness…. – CNN, 4-24-09
  • Obama uses 100 days to build foundation: Barack Obama has used his first 100 days in office to set a foundation for the rest of his presidency. Time will be the judge of how successful his early months have been in resolving major U.S. challenges. Obama, whose move into the White House came with high expectations, has given hope to Americans that better days lie ahead, showing himself in command of the issues and displaying an easy-going maturity that many might not have expected from the 47-year-old. His supporters are ecstatic about him…. – Reuters, 4-26-09
  • In First 100 Days, Obama Flips Bush Admin’s Policies From Gitmo to Stem Cell Research, Obama Veers Away From His Predecessor’s Policies: As he approchaes his 100 days in office, President Obama has demonstrated a clear departure from his predecessor. From relaxing marijuana enforcement laws to releasing torture memos, the new administration has moved rapidly to revoke and alter policies that marked the legacy of the Bush team…. – ABC News, 4-25-09
  • Obama’s First 100 Days: Rising Hopes, Partisan Politics ABC News-Washington Post Poll: 50 Percent Say Country’s Headed in Right Direction: Barack Obama approaches the 100-day mark with rising economic hopes, the best job approval rating at this point in 20 years, the broadest personal popularity since Ronald Reagan and half of Americans now saying the country’s headed in the right direction. His problem: The other half don’t…. Click here for a PDF with charts and questionnaire.ABC News, 4-25-09
  • As 100th Day Nears, Obama Takes Hoopla and Runs With It: When it comes to the whole 100 Days hoopla, President Obama and his team were against it before they were for it. To hear the White House tell it, Mr. Obama never much cared for the idea of marking his 100th day in office, next Wednesday. A trumped-up journalistic convention, senior aides called it. (O.K., they have a point.) “Not a ton different than the 99th,” declared Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. “A Hallmark holiday,” said a senior adviser, David Axelrod. But even as they professed their disdain for the pseudomilestone, Mr. Obama’s advisers have quietly embraced it. Through a meticulously planned schedule — a town-hall-style meeting in St. Louis on Wednesday, followed by a prime-time news conference — and sophisticated management of the news media, the White House is harnessing the insatiable public appetite for all things Obama and turning the 100 Days moment to the president’s advantage…. – NYT, 4-24-09
  • First Lady in Control of Building Her Image: Vogue magazine, the fashion world’s chronicler of first ladies, bedecked Hillary Rodham Clinton in black velvet and Laura Bush in blue silk. But not Michelle Obama. She insisted on choosing her own dress (a sleeveless, magenta silk number) and using her own hair and makeup stylists for the glossy photograph splashed across Vogue’s March cover. This was nothing new for Mrs. Obama, who has pointedly controlled her look on the covers of People, Essence, More and O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine…. – NYT, 4-25-09
  • Fox sticking with schedule instead of Obama: Fox became the first broadcast network to turn down a request by President Barack Obama for time, opting to show its drama “Lie to Me” on Wednesday instead of the president’s prime-time news conference. Fox will direct viewers interested in the news conference to Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network, which will both carry it. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC are all carrying the 8 p.m. EDT event, on Obama’s 100th day in office…. – AP,4-27-09
  • President Obama Requests May Sweeps Timeslot: President Barack Obama has asked to make a prime-time appearance during May sweeps. White House officials have requested up to an hour of airtime for Wednesday, April 29, according to TV Week. The press conference, which falls on the 100th day of Obama’s presidency, will probably air in the 8 o’clock hour and address questions of the president’s performance. Broadcast networks have not yet announced their response, but a source said that they will most likely agree to the administration’s request. Will you tune in to President Obama’s “100 Days” press conference? Or have there been too many already? – TV Guide, 4-23-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • Transcript President Obama’s 100th-Day Press Briefing: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s press briefing as he marks his 100th day in office, as transcribed by Federal News Service…. – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Text of Obama’s news conference Wednesday: Text of President Barack Obama’s news conference on Wednesday at the White House, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
    OBAMA: Before we begin tonight, I just want to provide everyone with a few brief updates on some of the challenges w’re dealing with right now.
    First, we are continuing to closely monitor the emergency cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations.
    Our public health officials have recommended that schools with confirmed or suspected cases of this flu strongly consider temporarily closing. And if more schools are forced to close, we’ve recommended that both parents and businesses think about contingency plans if their children do have to stay home.
    I’ve requested an immediate $1.5 billion in emergency funding from Congress to support our ability to monitor and track this virus and to build our supply of antiviral drugs and other equipment. And we will also ensure that those materials get to where they need to be as quickly as possible.
    And, finally, I’ve asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: Keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick.
    We’ll continue to provide regular updates to the American people as we receive more information. And everyone should rest assured that this government is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus.
    The second thing I’d like to mention is how gratified I am that the House and the Senate passed a budget resolution today that will serve as an economic blueprint for this nation’s future.
    I especially want to thank Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, all of the members of Congress who worked so quickly and effectively to make this blueprint a reality.
    This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.
    We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut.
    But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I’ve also said that we can’t go back to an economy that’s built on a pile of sand, on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards, on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allow recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of all.
    We have to lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do.
    It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit.
    I also campaigned on the promise that I would change the direction of our nation’s foreign policy. And we’ve begun to do that, as well. We’ve begun to end the war in Iraq, and we forged with our NATO allies a new strategy to target al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception.
    And we’ve renewed our diplomatic efforts to deal with challenges ranging from the global economic crisis to the spread of nuclear weapons.
    So I think we’re off to a good start, but it’s just a start. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but I’m not content. I’m pleased with our progress, but I’m not satisfied.
    Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high, and government is still not as efficient as it needs to be.
    We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, as well as pandemic flu. And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security in the second hundred days, in the third hundred days and all of the days after that.
    You can expect us to work on health care reform that will bring down costs while maintaining quality, as well as energy legislation that will spark a clean-energy revolution. I expect to sign legislation by the end of this year that sets new rules of the road for Wall Street, rules that reward drive and innovation, as opposed to shortcuts and abuse.
    And we will also work to pass legislation that protects credit card users from unfair rate hikes and abusive fees and penalties. We’ll continue scouring the federal budget for savings and target more programs for elimination. And we will continue to pursue procurement reform that will greatly reduce the no-bid contracts that have wasted so many taxpayer dollars.
    So we have a lot of work left to do. It’s work that will take time, and it will take effort. But the United States of America, I believe, will see a better day.
    We will rebuild a stronger nation, and we will endure as a beacon for all of those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that there’s a place where all of this is possible.
    I want to thank the American people for their support and their patience during these trying times, and I look forward to working with you in the next hundred days, in the hundred days after that, all of the hundreds of days to follow to make sure that this country is what it can be.
    And with that, I will start taking some questions…. – AP, 4-29-09
  • Retrospective in Missouri: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to be your President. (Applause.) One hundred days. It’s a good thing. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
    Now, back in November, some folks were surprised that we showed up in Springfield at the end of our campaign. But then again, some folks were surprised that we even started our campaign in the first place. (Laughter.) They didn’t give us much of a chance. They didn’t think we could do things differently. They didn’t know if this country was ready to move in a new direction.
    But here’s the thing — my campaign wasn’t born in Washington. My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America; rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children — future for their children and for their communities and for their country.
    “I want to warn you, there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them.”… – WH Blog, 4-29-09
    Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ARNOLD, MISSOURI TOWN HALL
  • Obama addresses town hall meeting on 100th day: “I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America…. I’m confident in the future, but not I’m not content with the present. You know the progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker.”
    Obama acknowledged challenges of “unprecedented size and scope,” including the recession. These challenges, he said, could not be met with “half measures.” “They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession, But also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days…. There’s no mystery to what we’ve done; the priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.” – CNN, 4-29-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    Historians’ Comments

    • Larry Berman, Stephen Knott, Russell Riley, Al Felzenberg, Gerhard Peters: How Obama’s first 100 days stack up: Historians agree on one thing when it comes to evaluating a president’s first 100 days: The exercise is an artificial, often superficial construct. It’s too short of a time to seriously measure anything substantive about a presidency, and not an indicator of future success.”If the country is focused on the Bush torture program all summer it is going to be a huge distraction,” said Larry Berman, a professor of political science at UC Davis who teaches a course on Obama’s first 100 days. “The people who don’t realize this, I think, are the people who supported Obama from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.”… – SF Chronicle, 4-27-09
    • LOU CANNON, ROBERT DALLEK, ROGER MORRIS, JEAN EDWARD SMITH and RICHARD REEVES “Obama at 100 Days”: For three months, five presidential historians have been writing online columns comparing Barack Obama’s initial 100 days in office with those of some of his modern predecessors’. These are their final installments. The full series, along with an interactive timeline of presidential history can be found in the 100 Days blog. NYT, 4-25-09
    • LOU CANNON “In Reagan’s Debt”: Obama, too, is misunderstood by critics as an ideologue. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • ROBERT DALLEK “Think Big, Even in Defeat”: Memories of L.B.J. have faded, but his stamp on society remains. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • ROGER MORRIS “New Address, Same Politician”: Nixon was done in by character: his and that of those around him. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • JEAN EDWARD SMITH “Changing the American Mind”: President Obama has led people to re-think their assumptions. Just like F.D.R. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • RICHARD REEVES “Saved by the Cold War”: When it comes to mistakes, it’s hard to top J.F.K.’s early days. – NYT, 4-25-09
    • Julian Zelizer: “Obama dominates in first 100 days”: “It is clearly the most ambitious agenda at least since the 1960s,” said Princeton University historian and political scientist Julian Zelizer…. “He is going to have to deal with that ambitious agenda in the totally polarized domestic political environment,” said Zelizer. – AFP, 4-26-09
    • Julian E. Zelizer: What Obama Has Shown, So Far, About His Style of Governing”: The penchant for tightly concentrated executive-branch clout is in line with recent trends in the American presidency. “There’s been a fear of delegating too much to agencies that started during the conservative revolution and intensified after Hurricane Katrina,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University. “Like his immediate predecessors, Obama wants decision-making focused on his inner circle. If he’s successful, he won’t change this pattern.”….”Obama’s campaign was idealistic and firmly rooted and made you lose sight of the fact he’s pragmatic and not stuck on one way to reach his objectives,” said Princeton’s Zelizer. “At times, he seems torn between what to do, and on foreign policy you see his approach is to feel his way around. But he’s not allowing advisers to dictate what he does at this point.” – CQ Politics, 4-26-09
    • Ivan Eland: Don’t judge Obama’s legacy on first 100 days: The media have been focusing, almost obsessively, on President Obama’s first 100 days. But it’s important to remember that the presidency is a marathon, not a sprint. Much could get done during the first 100 days, but more than 1,300 days will follow in a president’s first term. And what’s important is what the president does with all his days.If he establishes a legacy of peace, prosperity and liberty, he should be judged a success. If he pushes policies that flaunt the Constitution, expand government beyond its proper role, undermine our economic and individual liberties or lead us unnecessarily into conflict, he will have failed – no matter how charming he is, how effectively he leads or how many Facebook friends he has….

      Presidents should be judged on results. And results should be measured not by the number of new laws passed, the size of a stimulus bill or the number of jobs added or saved during the president’s term. Results should be measured by the degree to which his actions, or his deliberate inaction, contribute to peace, prosperity and liberty.

      Most Americans want Obama to succeed. But success involves more than just getting things enacted. We should expect Obama to stay true to the Constitution, protect the value of the dollar and see that our government lives within its means. Using the power of government to print and borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to lavish favors on selected companies, industries and special interests is not how you do this. – SF Chronicle, 4-25-09

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