Obama’s 100 days

To measure a political leader one hundred days after acceptancing power remains a perilous affair. However tempting round numbers are politically speaking, it can never be more than a snapshot. In the case of President Barack Obama, who has been in the White House for one hundred days today, there is an additional reason to consider this milestone.

In addressing the financial crisis, Obama likes to compare himself with his illustrious predecessor Franklin D. Roosevelt, a successful Democratic president who used his first hundred days to enact a series of measures to withstand the economic crisis of the thirties.

A similarity with this period to some extent. Roosevelt looked at a much deeper crisis. Almost all of his plans managed to be accepted without significant political resistance, whereas Obama encounters a growing Republican opposition.

Obama does not want his ambitions to cool and looks just as confident as he was during his campaign. According to him, it is not just about restoring the confidence in the financial system; this is the moment to give the economy a stronger, more sustainable basis by investing in energy, education and healthcare. Even on foreign lands, initiatives tumble over each other in an attempt to restore America’s violated image in the world.

His crowded policy seems to benefit Obama’s popularity. The percentage of Americans satisfied with the way the president is doing his job varies from 65 to 69 percent, depending on the survey. In his opinion, this is also the moment to give the economy a stronger, more sustainable basis by investing in energy, education and health. After a hundred days, Obama scores significantly higher than both his predecessors Bush (56 percent) and Clinton (49 percent).

The expectations are still high, despite the deplorable state of the U.S. economy. But then Obama is not without risk. Almost three quarters of the American people expect the next four years will be better. That puts a considerable pressure on the president. There remains to be seen whether his economic recovery plan will have an effect, or as critical economists fear, will be nowhere near enough.

On foreign policy, Obama is no less vulnerable. The war in Afghanistan is going anywhere but according to plan, and Pakistan will possibly be an even greater security risk. It is the question if Iran will address Obama’s outstretched hand. The list of potential stumbling blocks is not yet complete.

The new optimism and renewed self-confidence of the American population meanwhile is in sharp contrast with the rapid return of Washington going back to business as usual. In spite of his old desire to break boundaries, Obama’s popularity in Democratic circles is directly proportional to the growing distaste that he earns from the Republican side. As long as the Republicans, still smarting by their defeat, will not be able to offer an alternative plan, Obama has little to fear from them politically, provided that he is more than just a good story.

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