8 a.m. ET: Barack Obama has now been president for 200 days, which means -- according to CNN, the Republican National Committee and others -- that it's time for an assessment of how he's done so far. (Did you know that "the second 100 days" was important? Apparently it is!)
Obama's average job approval now stands at 53 percent, down roughly 7 points since the 100-day mark. Ratings for his handling of health care are in negative territory, with an average approval of 43 percent and disapproval of 47 percent. The latest unemployment report out this morning is expected to peg the jobless rate at 9.6 percent. The Dow is up nearly 17 percent since Obama was sworn in.
Obama has not signed health-care reform or climate change legislation into law. But he did get his first Supreme Court nominee approved. He withdrew some troops from Iraq and sent more to Afghanistan. He tiptoed around a controversial election in Iran and a coup in Honduras. He unwittingly walked into a big debate about race. Obama's nominees had a few tax-related problems at the start, but his administration has yet to suffer a real scandal.
So what will the third 100 days bring? Or how about the fifth 50 days? Are fractions allowed? Speaking of arbitrary numbers, the Senate's Gang of Six ended their health-care talks Thursday night without a breakthrough, and they plan to keep talking, via teleconference and perhaps in person, throughout August. Jonathan Cohn suggests the six should become five, and that Mike Enzi should be kicked out of the gang. Peggy Noonan thinks Democrats look desperate on health care.
White House aides told Senate Democrats Thursday that the administration would defend them if they get attacked back home on health care, and reiterated their desire to focus their message on the failings of insurance companies. (The insurance industry has "already won," says BusinessWeek.) Privately, the White House has reportedly warned liberal groups to stop advertising against Democrats on health care. Harry Reid broke out the thesaurus Thursday, accusing Republicans of trying to blow themselves up "with all this vexatious stuff." Almost on cue, Rush Limbaugh suggested that "Obama's got a health-care logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook," and proceeded to compare Democrats to Nazis in a variety of other ways.
Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court Thursday, 68-31. During the debate, Chuck Schumer summed up the historic nature of the moment by noting that the first-ever African-American president had nominated the first-ever Hispanic justice. He left out the fact that the debate was presided over by the Honorable Al Franken. Times really are changing. Sotomayor will be sworn in Saturday, and she now faces a heavy workload, including a rare summer session to hear an important campaign finance case. The Senate vote breakdown apparently means that Obama's election did not, in fact, usher in a new era of bipartisan harmony. Maybe that will come in the sixth 40 days of his presidency. We're preparing a special report on it now.
August 7, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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