January 20th, 2009
08:30 AM ET

The clock is ticking on Obama's first 100 days

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Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

Given the chance to deliver a college commencement address, I would tell the graduates that they will never be as smart as they are at that moment, for from that day forward what they don't know will exceed what they do.

In the same vein, expectations for the Obama presidency will never be greater than they were at noon Tuesday, for from that time forward it is all about the reality of governing.

Historians and journalists like round numbers so "the first 100 days" becomes a convenient marker to consider the early successes and failures of a new administration.

[Use the comment section below to tell CNN what you will consider to be success or failure for President Obama in his first 100 days in office and what issues you want CNN to focus on.]

Terry Sullivan, the executive director of the White House Transition Project, has studied the work schedules of presidents in their first 100 days. "It's a standard. It's an easy thing to identify and sit down at the end of the 100 days and say what has this guy accomplished and what have they not accomplished. So it's an easy standard to hold every president against, to compare every president to," Sullivan, an associate professor in political science at the University of North Carolina, told the National Journal

It may not be a fair milestone, but it has been popular since Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, during the economic calamity to which today's problems are compared.

The clock on President Obama is ticking.

In 100 days (April 29, using Jan. 20 as day one) assessments will be made on what he has done to fix a broken economy, to safeguard the homeland from terrorism, to bring the troops home from Iraq while shifting attention to Afghanistan, to change the image of the United States in some corners of the globe, to improve the education of our children, to heal the ills of our health care system, to strengthen our infrastructure, to ensure the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink and so many, many more needs and interests of both the people who voted for him and all of those who did not.

The new president need only look back to his predecessor to know that heal so will be judged by how he handles events unplanned and unforeseen. President Bush had been in office barely 60 days when in April 2001 a U.S. surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet, provoking a crisis between the one nation already a superpower and the other on the brink of that status.

In short, the whole world will be watching President Obama.

Promises are the currency of the campaign trail and President Obama made his share.

How many? More than 500, according to http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/, created by the St. Petersburg Times, which will track them as "no action, in the works or stalled." Once action has been taken, the grading will shift to "promise kept, compromise or promise broken."

As President Obama delivered his inaugural address, the meter already read two promises kept, one stalled, 12 in the works and 495 as no action.

President Obama, of course, will not be the only one graded on the first 100 days. His party, the Democrats, control the House of Representatives and the Senate and they, too, will be judged. Congress can be cumbersome and any successes will require not only that all friendly hands row in the same direction, but that a few foes from across the political aisle extend their support.

The clock on the first 100 days in the presidency of Barrack Hussein Obama is ticking. April 29 is not that far off.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Debra`Wharton

    Obama needs to do something revolutionary and immediately to help all of the families who are in danger of losing their homes. This does not mean a bailout for banks and credit isntitutions, but offer government guaranteed loans to refinance all those in trouble at low fixed rates. If people are paying less for their mortgages and everyone in this country has a chance to get a low, fixed rate loan, people will have more money for spending which will revive the economy. Because people will be able to afford homes again, the cosntruction industry will be revitalized and real estate values will rise again. If only banking and credit institutions are saved then the bailout will simply allow banks to continue business as usual which means predatory lending practices that deny most Amiercans the chance to get out of rent slavery and have their own yard and a dog.

    January 21, 2009 at 10:43 pm |

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