Just my Thoughts · Politics

The First 100 Days

The news lately, in anticipation of President Obama’s first 100 days, has been all about dissecting this time frame and, of course, H1N1 flu.  It has been enough to make me turn the news off and listen to music all day but I did turn into the presidential news conference last night.  While I get tired of news, news, news all day, I do understand that keeping abreast of the news is important.  I just could not pass up watching the news conference, though I did miss parts of the hour.


The news conference, which I did not see reported at all in the online version of my local paper, was well orchestrated.  I do have to say that knowing who you want to ask you questions must make answering them easier.  Even though President Obama did look a bit surprised at some of the questions, I do not feel that any took him by true surprise.  I use to hate watch President Bush take questions as he tended to not be good with off the cuff remarks.


In his opening statement, President Obama, who was taking the prime time stage for the third time in 100 days which seems like a lot of media exposure for a new president to me, discussed steps to monitor H1N1 flu virus and budget legislation.  He, then, began taking questions from preselected reporters.  The questions ranged from H1N1 virus to torture to Arlen Specter to US auto makers to black unemployment.  Truthfully, the questions covered the gamut of possibilities.


In answering a question regarding closing the Mexican border, President Obama said he had consulted public health officials before making a decision to not close the southern US border.  He said that those officials aligned closing the border now with closing the barn door after the animals were out.  He also indicated that the H1N1 virus should be dealt with using concern but not panic.


Ed Henry, of CNN, asked about the Freedom of Choice Act, phrasing his question around President Obama’s speech to come at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement next month.  Because of the Freedom of Choice Act and Obama’s support of it, many Notre Dame alumni and current students, faculty and staff have protested the choice of Obama for a commencement speaker.  Obama ascertained that his position on abortion has been consistent, even though he said addressing legislation on it was “above his pay grade” as a senator and candidate for president.  He did indicate that this was not his highest legislative priority.


The New York Times reporter Jeff Nolan took a different approach, asking Obama what events/items had most humbled, surprised, troubled and enchanted him in the first 100 days.  I was struck by the “fluffy” nature of the question but the “concrete” nature of the answer.  Obama has been surprised by the number of critical issues that are coming to a head all at the same time.  Most administrations deal with two to three and he feels his administration is dealing with seven to eight.  He said he is less troubled but more sobered by the slowness of change in Washington.  This is an issue that I had problems with during the campaign.  Obama was all about change and I couldn’t figure out how he thought this would all play out in Washington.  There is still political posturing and bickering even amid the big crises that we are facing.  Obama used the enchanted portion of the question to discuss the feelings of being profoundly impressed and grateful when he meets service men and women.  He said he was humbled by the fact that his position as President of the United States is extraordinarily powerful but is also part of a broader tapestry of the way our lives are.  He also indicated he is humbled by the continued patience of the American people.


President Obama also took questions on immigration reform and reaching out to Senator John McCain, being a shareholder in banks and mortgage companies and auto makers, and on specifics to address black unemployment.  All in all, his answers were clear and concise.  


If I were to grade his performance in his first 100 days, President Obama would pass.  I don’t know if I could give him an A but he and his administration is definitely doing at least B work.  They are attempting to handle everything that is thrown at them.  I am not saying I agree with everything they are doing, as would be noted in my previous posts, but they are working for what they feel is best for the American people.

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