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Grading Obamas Second 100 Days

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-08-09 02:42 PM
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Grading Obamas Second 100 Days


A usually disciplined and strategic White House embarks on a campaign to produce a health-care bill only to see it challenged by a conservative opposition from within its own ranks, the so-called Blue Dog Democrats. And President Obamas hopes and efforts for bipartisan solutions have been generally rebuffed by the Republicans. Fortunately for Obama, the Republicans seem as confused as they were in the first 100 days and are offering no real alternative policies, or else the impact on his approval numbers could be greater. Yet, while the President seems solidly in charge and has the numbers in Congress to advance his agenda, the honeymoon is now clearly over.

The key criteria for evaluating the second 100 days remain the economy, domestic issues, foreign policy and the Presidents personal performance. On the economy, the results are decidedly mixed. The stock market has rebounded significantly after a disturbing dip in early spring and most experts concede that the risk of depression is gone and the recession may be bottoming out. No one expects a short-term job recovery but the stimulus plan still has to work its way through the economy. Many economists recognize that the administration has improved the economic prospects, while remaining worried about long-term deficits and spending. The grade should be a solid B.

On domestic issues, the President was successful in his selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the US Supreme Courtan historic and welcomed occasion for America. She will most likely be confirmed by the end of the week. The Clunker for Cash program seems to be working by general consensus, the U.S. car industry now has a lifeline and promising programs on credit and mortgages were adopted. The health-care issue has not, however, been as successful. Obsessed with not adopting the 1993 Clinton strategic approach to health care reform, the administration seems to have lost the upper hand it had in the first 100 days. This is serious for a President who has made this his signature domestic policy for his first term. The return of Congress in September will make this the defining issue for the next 100 days. In addition, expect battles on cap and trade and debate on budgetary issues. The grading here should be B minus.

On foreign policy, Obama has changed the dynamic. His openings in the Middle East are still too early to assess but it is a clear improvement on the Bush years. Initiatives with Russia and China are encouraging. Obama has changed the tone and is seen in a much more favorable light in the world community than his predecessor. Diplomacy and multilateralism are back in fashion. In addition to Obama, kudos must go to Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Bob Gatesan impressive team with a sense of direction and an understanding of its priorities. The recent success with President Clinton in liberating the two journalists from North Korea presents possibilities with respect to that country. The grade should be B+.

Finally, on the Presidents personal performance, much has been written about the recent beer diplomacy. To assess real leadership, one needs to observe a President when faced with adversity. Obama has displayed a coolness and a grace under fire as well as a capacity for growth in the future. I remain most impressed by his comment that he was not on a 24-hour news cycle. Conservative columnist David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times about the search for dignity in our public life. He concluded that whatever ones politics, Obamas presidency may revitalize the concept of dignity for a new generation. I agree, and on that basis, he deserves an A+.
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