As 100-Day Mark Nears, Comparisons Begin
By Ben Pershing
This afternoon, President Obama will meet with one former president and the brother of another. The timing seems appropriate, as Obama's session with Bill Clinton and Edward Kennedy to discuss national service comes as the press prepares to start rolling out its assessments of 44's first 100 days, and comparing his achievements to those of his predecessors.
Is Obama best compared to Franklin Roosevelt? Both men, the Los Angeles Times points out this morning, came into office proposing sweeping legislative changes in response to dire economic crises. "And yet, for all the talk of sweeping change, we have learned this about Obama: He is not really a radical," Doyle McManus writes. "Like FDR, he wants to reform American capitalism in order to save it." Republicans also see some parallels between Obama and Roosevelt -- and dislike both presidencies. Many in the GOP are busy reading the revisionist Depression history, "The Forgotten Man." Depending on whom you ask, it's either "a remarkable book" that corrects long-held misperceptions about the effectiveness of the New Deal, or it's a simplistic, misguided collection of "stories that mostly go nowhere."
One noticeable trend in Obama's first 100 days (actually, 92 so far) is that Obama speaks publicly quite often. Past presidents, Newsweek notes, "have allowed the vice president or other top aides to take on some of the PR workload or have even relied on the magic of the press release to get word out, but not Obama." Tim Geithner and Vice President Biden have given a few speeches, but with the exception of Geithner's missteps, how many have been truly memorable? And when was the last time you saw Hillary Clinton speaking on TV? Jim Hoagland suggested Sunday that Obama should "[s]tay out of the honey-tree trap of commander in chiefism" and instead delegate more to his Cabinet. As next week's milestone approaches, you can expect a lot more analysis of how Obama's much-chronicled decision to assemble a "team of rivals" (and big egos) has worked in practice.
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