It was before an army of journalists that Barack Obama self-evaluated his first one hundred days in office. This magic number has been the cornerstone by which every US administration’s first 100 days is evaluated since President Franklin Roosevelt seized his first three months in office to give himself a report card designed to reassure the public that his administration was off to a good start in tackling the country’s economic quagmire of the 1930s. Having been comparing his administration to that of FDR, Obama stood tall in his march to reassure the nation that he is indeed in full control at the driver seat—something no one doubts that he is.
Obama seems to be making headway in his role of comforter in chief. Millions of Americans are still willing to give him the time needed to turn things around. But can he really make the switch from comforter to caregiver? Can he finally put America back on track? Obama inherits a country on the verge of a deep recession. Banks are failing, unemployment is highest it has ever been in years, a healthcare system in crisis, managing two wars, the road ahead could be bumpy. Most economists can only predict the unpredictability of the New York Stock Exchange and the Real Estate market, the heart of the US symbol of wealth, power and influence.
In tackling the economy, a two-pronged strategy seems to be in the work: reassuring Americans that his government could rise to the challenge while reminding them not to rely solely on Washington. It was the same strategy engineered by FDR in a series of radio address dubbed fireside chats. “It was the government’s job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible, and the job is being performed,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt told his audience. More than seventy years later, Obama appears to have borrowed heavily from the same script. “I think we’re off to a good start, but it’s just a start. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but I’m not content. I’m pleased with our progress, but I’m not satisfied.”
And America seems ready to give him credit for being on the ball—although not successful yet. The latest opinion polls found more than 50% of Americans think the country is moving in the right direction. Like FDR, inspiring confidence in the future is Obama’s major pillar in keeping the public opinion on his side.
On the flu outbreak threatening the nation Obama projects an image of self-confidence amidst great concerns in the population in the aftermath of dozens of deaths registered down in Mexico. “Every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations,” he said Wednesday night. “I’ve asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home from work if you’re sick and keep your children home from school if they’re sick,” he went on to say.
However, despite the infinite honeymoon that seems to reign between the new administration and the corporate media, all does not appear to be so rosy. Across the country, there are many voters who remain pessimistically optimistic, feeling disenfranchised or even cheated out on promises made during the campaign trail. And despite the fact there is still hope that Obama will eventually bring about the change in Washington, there is a growing consensus that, whatever the shifts in style—looking presidential, calm, boyish and self confident—the fundamental remains largely intact.
In Iraq, the Bush doctrine continues to rule unabated, with troop levels virtually unchanged. And now, it is highly unlikely that a troop reduction will happen any time soon, as the security situation deteriorates. This has triggered top US generals to openly challenge Obama’s plan for a limited withdrawal, declaring it unviable.
The war in Afghanistan is becoming more and more Obama’s war, extending it to neighboring Pakistan in violation of international law. The next 100 days will be crucial in determining the true path of success or failure. For now, what is certain is that the public is still ready to give Barack Obama ample times to turn things around—a plus for his administration.
Also see The summit of the Americas: Obama is hopeful