The First 100 Days: A Whole That Is Greater Than Its Parts

Placing Obama's first 100 days in context is important because for the first 100 days, at least, the whole outweighs the sum of its parts. Not only have Obama's first 100 days been by far the best of any president of my lifetime, but they began not a day too soon. The country was reeling economically, directionless in foreign policy, losing credibility and support abroad and suffering a crisis of confidence at home when Obama became president. Obama has begun to turn all of this around. Moreover, even though Obama has not been a constant optimist in the White House he has restored confidence both abroad and domestically as most Americans believe our new president is, for the most part, leading us in the right directions. There have also been a range of less high profile issues including stem cell research, national service, allowing science back into policy and, frankly, bringing a sense of normalcy back to Washington, for which Obama also deserves credit. Ultimately, what stops Obama from getting an A is his approach to addressing finance and banking issues, so his final grade is A-.


Obama and the G-20

The story is not, for many reasons, quite as simple as this. The G20 Summit is occurring in the midst of a global economic crisis of historic proportions, one which raises important, although far from identical, problems for all of the countries participating in the summit. Due to the impact of the downturn in the US and the effect on the rest of the world of the American bubble bursting, Obama is forced into a very strange position, one that is part rock star and part Dr. Doom. The American president whose personal story and style exudes optimism will be, to a substantial extent, playing the role of pessimist, or realist, at the summit, as he must not seek to minimize the seriousness of the economic problems we all face.