Apr 292009
Authors: Caleb Thornton

Unless I am mistaken, by the time this article goes to print, change will have come to America for exactly 101 days.

For any other professional position this number would be meaningless, but ever since FDR’s historic first term, the first 100 days of any president’s tenure have been scrutinized, weighed and measured to determine if they were successful or not.

Obviously, it would be impossible to decide whether or not Obama’s presidency has been a success or failure at this point in time, but because the opportunity has presented itself, I figured now would be as good a time as any to take a look at just what the president has done in these first crucial months.

What comes to mind first when considering the first 100 day of the Obama presidency would be the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress only weeks after the president had been sworn in. Frankly, I believe that it is this piece of legislation alone that will really determine how President Obama’s first 100 days are viewed.

It may come as a shock to some of you (if you have never really read this column before, that is), but I believe that this legislation was a monumental mistake made by the president and the Democratically controlled Congress and, barring an immediate economic upturn which has yet to happen, will be viewed as such in the future.

Just in case you missed it, this act allocated over $800 billion to, as the White House put it, “jump start the economy.” Of course, there was no mention of how exactly America was going to pay for such a bill, much less any discussion on how this goblin of a bill would actually get America out of its current recession.

You can also forget the idea that there was any healthy debate on the bill — it was passed out of Congress less than 24 hours after the final form was introduced.

Because it was passed, our generation can now look forward to an even larger federal deficit that will undoubtedly have to pay for with higher taxes.

Simply put — this was a bad bill that will have consequences down the road.

The president also took his first world tour during these first few months, and I’m not so sure we can call it a resounding success. In fact, while he may have been popular with the general public in Europe, very little consensus was reached with world leaders on the best way to combat the global recession.

Yes, I know it is early, and the president has plenty of trips overseas to come, but as for his latest trip, I’m not so sure we could call it a success.

However, the president has made some good decisions in his first 100 days as well.

While there is still no proposed alternative, I believe that closing Guantanamo Bay was a smart choice. With no real plan set in place for those held there anyway, it makes sense to close down a facility that had turned into a black eye for the U.S. in the international community.

The president also scored a major victory in dealing with the recent pirate situation. Giving the military the go-ahead was the right call in that case, and it seems to have paid off in the end.

So in retrospect, what can be said of the president’s first 100 days?

To me, it really comes down to his biggest piece of legislation — the Recovery Act passed by Congress in February. Granted, the legislation has yet to fully implement itself and we will have to see what happens from here, but as far as I am concerned it was a bad idea to begin with.

Of course with 100 days down and many more to go, we will see where the president goes from here.

Caleb Thornton is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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