Tag Archive: obama


Obama’s First 100 Days

obama-listensBarack Obama has a lot of work to do. Fortunately, he’s riding an extraordinary wave of political goodwill. If the new president plays his cards right, he should be able to get a lot done, especially in his first 100 days.

The idea of presidents proving themselves in the first 100 days started with FDR. The pressure to get to work quickly is just as strong today. Already, Obama has issued his first public act in office, freezing salaries on White House aides making over $100,000. But what next? The economy is in the toilet, there are wars to end, schools to fix, and pollution to control. Oh, and health care costs are, to use a well-worn cliché, “spiraling out of control.” Below are some thoughts from pundits and columnists across the Web. Their ideas and predictions range from the specific (fix military hospitals) to the extremely vague (do something about Iraq). Mr. President, if you’re looking for advice on where to begin, you’ve come to the right place.

The economy
The experts at CNN Money lay out six issues that require President Obama’s immediate attention. First, get the economic stimulus bill passed and implemented. Next, start a foreclosure prevention program. Third, improve the bank bailouts. Fourth, submit a budget request mapping out how the government will spend money over the next 5 to 10 years. Fifth, figure out what to do about American automakers. And last but not least, talk with world leaders to “address the global economic crisis.”

Veterans
Paul Rieckhoff
, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote a blog for the Huffington Post calling on President Obama to make veterans a priority in the first 100 days. He argues that Obama should “prioritize veterans in the economic stimulus package,” address the mental health injuries of soldiers, and “ensure that veterans don’t have to fight for hospital and clinic funding.”

Consult with military experts
An NPR interview with Stephen Hess, senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution, includes a few nuggets. Mr. Hess predicted (accurately, it turns out) that President Obama would promptly call a meeting with top generals. Why? During an early debate, Obama said he would meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the war in Iraq. And, on his first day in office, Obama did just that. It wasn’t exactly a bold prediction, but hey, we can’t all be Nostradamus.

Reach out
The Washington Post hosts an interesting editorial on how Mr. Obama would do well to heed the advice of the first former President Bush. During Bush Senior’s first few days as president, he “gathered hundreds of the government’s senior career executives” to “praise their dedication, extol public service and to ask for their help in governing.” Obama may want to do something similar as a way to inspire genuine enthusiasm among those who will carry out the policies. He can’t do everything himself, after all.

Human rights
Amnesty International, the human rights organization, has its own checklist for President Obama. Among the many ideas: end illegal detention, “eradicate torture and other ill-treatment,” and “end impunity.” Interested parties can sign a petition set up by Amnesty International that calls on Obama to act on these priorities.

Just about everything
Salon.com interviewed three experts on what citizens should expect from President Obama in his first 100 days as commander in chief. One expert, Steve Clemons, believes that “we’ve replaced the housing bubble in the United States with an Obama bubble.” Before that bubble deflates, Mr. Obama would do well to “front-load” his agenda with big bets on infrastructure. The experts also agree that Mr. Obama has to act on Iraq and make moves that will satisfy his liberal base.

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Mon Jan 19, 4:32 pm ET

obama1-xo“They said this day would never come.”

That’s what President-elect Barack Obama said when he surprised a lot of people by winning the Iowa caucus. And that goes double for the inauguration the nation is about to witness. Whether you’re planning to brave the crowds (and cold) or watch the festivities from home, here are a few things to look out for:

1. Will Obama deliver (again)?
It’s no secret that Obama is known for his eloquent speeches. Perhaps unknowingly, he essentially kicked off his ’08 campaign with a keynote speech at John Kerry‘s 2004 convention. During the Democratic primary, Obama’s speech on race, addressing controversial remarks by pastor Jeremiah Wright, is now widely noted as a turning point for his campaign. Even after he wowed massive crowds in Germany, people wondered if he would be able to carry Denver’s Invesco Field during the convention. By most accounts, he did. That’s why rumors about Obama’s inaugural address began to surface as early as October. Once again, there’s a lot riding on this speech. AP sums it up:  

“The great task of Barack Obama is to be a John F. Kennedy or to be a Ronald Reagan — truly inspire the American people and in a few succinct, memorable lines, lay out for the country your new vision for America,” says American University political historian Allan J. Lichtman. 

Gulp.

If history is any judge, we’ve yet to see the president-elect disappoint on the day of the big test. Even Obama’s 27-year-old speechwriter Jon Favreau has become a minor celebrity. And if all this pressure ever feels a bit heavy-handed, Obama can enjoy the fact that there’s also a good deal of light-hearted betting on his speech: Which past president will get the first inaugural shout-out? Will he say “banana“?

2. They built it, but will they come?
Following a historic nomination, you’d expect historic crowds. And if predictions come true, D.C. is about to become one packed house. While crowd estimates once peaked at 4 to 5 million, the Washington Post found that an internal report stated that the Secret Service is expecting anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million. (The record for the biggest crowd belongs to Lyndon B. Johnson, who saw 1.2 million in 1965.)

But numbers may continue to dwindle. According to FOXNews

The Pennsylvania-based Red Lion Bus Company has canceled nearly all of its trips to Washington on inaugural week because passengers are steadily backing out of their reservations, the company’s owner told FOXNews.com

“Most passengers are canceling because they’re not able to get tickets to any place where you could really see anything,” said company owner Dennis Warner.

And some folks are planning on skipping town entirely. Politico reports that many Republicans will be taking well-timed “vacations” or gathering for their own “inaugural” events: One Republican lawyer is inviting friends to Las Vegas for an “Inaugural in Exile.”

3. On the ball
While much has been made about the fashion choices of the Obamas, let’s hope they are fully decked out on the 20th — there are no less than 10 official balls. Sure, it’s the dresses we’re all really paying attention to here, but as MSNBC reports, there’s never a shortage of action:  

“It’s like a massive high school prom, is the only way I can describe it, in terms of the crush of people and the level of sophistication,” said Sheila Tate, who was press secretary to Nancy Reagan. “It’s just packed.” 

Tate has witnessed two coat-check riots at Republican balls. It happened at President Ronald Reagan’s ball in 1985, when many women left in minks not their own, and again in 1989 for the first President George Bush at a ball with what became known as “The Bastille Day Coat Check.”

But back to those dresses. If you know your first lady history, see if you can guess who wore what from past events. There’s no doubt everyone will be watching to see what Michelle chooses — there are plenty of sketches for her to chose from. But more than a few people have asked: Is it crass to be so glitzy when the nation is knee-deep in a recession? Heck no, “Project Runway” guru Tim Gunn told the AP: 

“‘This is a time to celebrate. This is a great moment. Do not dress down. Do not wear the Washington uniform,'” said Tim Gunn, a native Washingtonian and Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc.

4. Christian controversy?
Obama vowed to be a president who would listen to all sides of an argument. And if his choices for inaugural prayers are any indication, he will be. Gay-rights activists were enraged when he chose conservative evangelical minister Rick Warren, who had made controversial statements about gay relationships, to deliver the invocation.

Then, Obama asked openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson to say a prayer at a pre-inauguration event at the Lincoln Memorial, which, as Huffington Post points out, wound up not being broadcast on HBO.

Was Obama smartly playing both sides? Robert King at The Indianapolis Star sums it up by asking, “What’s up with Obama and his radioactive pastors?” 

And when confronted with a backlash from gays on the choice of Warren for an inaugural prayer, Obama didn’t just go and choose a bishop sympathetic to gay causes, or a gay clergy from a denomination with no battles over gays, he chose the most controversial gay clergyman in the land. He bought top shelf radioactivity…. The next four years should be anything but dull.

5. The ringleader
81-year-old Charlie Brotman will be a familiar face on a day that’s full of change. He has been the announcer for 13 inauguration parades, starting in 1957 for Eisenhower’s second term. He’s often quite a hoot: Brotman got in trouble with the Secret Service for sorta, kinda, not really asking George W. Bush to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals opening game. AP adds:  

After all, he’s the announcer who got the crowd, including the VIPs, to do the “wave” while waiting for late-arriving Bill Clinton in 1997.

And Brotman doesn’t take his job lightly. He told USA Today

“People are standing. They are freezing, and they may have been there for an hour or two, so I try to create some entertainment,” he said. “It’s as though these people are coming over to my house. I want them to have a nice time and a good memory.”

Sounds like he’s got something good up his sleeve for this year.

And as an honorary sixth, you know you’d be a fool to miss Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. So don’t miss out.