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Wag the Blog: Obama's First 100 Days

There's little question that President-elect Barack Obama studied the haphazard transition of the last Democratic president -- Bill Clinton -- in order to avoid making the same mistakes.

Where Clinton was scattershot, Obama has been steady. Where Clinton tended toward longtime friends for key Cabinet and staff jobs, Obama went with the team of rivals approach -- going as far as to name Hillary Rodham Clinton, his longtime primary rival, as his secretary of State.

(That's not to say Clinton's transition was all bad -- it wasn't -- or that Obama hasn't had problems. It appears as though New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who stepped aside as the Commerce Secretary designate on Sunday, was not properly vetted, and the pick of former Rep. Leon Panetta to head the CIA on Monday was met with something short of excitement by some Democrats including Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein.)

As official Washington turns its attention from the transition to Obama's plans for the first 100 days, Clinton's difficult experience in his own first 100 days can again serve as a cautionary tale for Obama.

Clinton sought to move on a number of major policy fronts -- an economic stimulus package, an overhaul of the health care system led by Hillary Clinton -- that were eventually abandoned, and was buffeted by unforeseen controversies (gays in the military/"don't ask, don't tell") and unpredictable events (the Branch Davidian stand-off in Waco, Texas).

"I think there was a great deal of exuberance by the president in terms of what he'd be able to accomplish immediately, and, no, he couldn't match it all," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart of Bill Clinton in the spring of 1993.

For today's Wag the Blog question we want your suggestions on the biggest lessons Obama should learn from the difficult first 100 days of Clinton, and we also want to hear whether you think the president-elect will be able to avoid those same pitfalls.

As always, the most thoughtful responses -- offered in the comments section below -- will be excerpted in their own post later this week.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 6, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog , White House  
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Comments

When we already have laws against crime passing anything called a Hate Crime is wrong and places the rights of one over those of another. If I am mugged, robbed, beaten or murdered, it certainly would not have been out of love. I would like to see laws enforced not more laws and I would like to see that they are enforced equally. What happened to Mathew Sheppard is a tragedy but what happened to Caylee Anthony is no less a tragedy, no less painful and no less murder.

Posted by: Barclay1 | January 8, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I hope that Obama doesn't take the wrong lesson from Clinton's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" fiasco. When Clinton attempted to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, a majority of Americans were opposed to the change. Now, over 70% of Americans want to get rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Gays and lesbians are an important part of the Democratic Party's base. As McCain learned last year, it's hard to win an election if your base isn't excited about you. If a Democratic President and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress can't deliver on the promises the party made to gays and lesbians last year, Democrats will have a tough time getting gay and lesbian votes and campaign dollars in 2010 and 2012.

Since the Proposition 8 vote, gays and lesbians have been livid. As a result of his decision to have Rick Warren speak at the inauguration, some of that anger is directed at Obama himself. Obama needs to do something in his first hundred days to make clear that he is not going to throw gays and lesbians under the bus. Passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act would be a good first step, and it won't cost any political capital. He probably shouldn't ask Congress to vote on Don't Ask Don't Tell in his first hundred days, but he needs to do something that clearly signals he intends to keep his campaign promise.

Posted by: equalrights | January 7, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Dear AProgressiveIndependent

Of course Obama made his selections sooner than Clinton did. Clinton did the work and Obama just took his list. He hasn't done anything unique or original.

Dear Anju Chandel
Of coure they have all inherited a similar legacy. Come on, do we really need to create excuses for the failures to come before he even makes it into office? Bush inherited a mess, Reagan inherited a mess, Truman inherited a mess, Nixon inherited a mess, Johnson inherited a mess... We have a serious pattern here. If we vote for a mess, a mess is what we will get. A better question would be "when was the last time the American People were wearing turbans at the end of a presidential term"?

Posted by: Barclay1 | January 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Barack Obama is a great and genuine leader" ...

Did anyone ever hear of him until the media took his hand and shoved him down our throats??? AND, I would have to argue about God. I believe he is perfect. He is, after all, GOD! What I find most interesting about this past election is that it is almost impossible to find anyone that admits to voting for the man. Hmmmmm. I expect nothing and will not be disappointed. His first 100 days, when they actually start will be spent restating his already tired "change" speech at which point he will begin to prep for the next election. More of the same just less opportunity to call it as we see it.

Posted by: Barclay1 | January 7, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Barack Obama's two mistakes in his first 100 days! ... Some fodder for his critics! ... Did we expect him to be "perfect"? ... Even God isn't! ... Give him time; he will learn. ... Barack Obama is a great and genuine leader and the US is really fortunate to have him as its 44th president - to steer the country out of the unprecedented mess left behind by the Bush administration. ... Wonder if any political leader had ever inherited such a messy legacy!

Posted by: AnjuChandel | January 7, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Barack Obama has already demonstrated he has learned the mistakes of Bill Clinton's first year in office. Instead of delaying health care reform legislation to his second year as Clinton did, Obama seems intent to seek Congressional approval of a major health care reform in his first year, realizing expanding health care coverage is important in sustained long-term economic growth of this country. Since private employers increasingly are aware of how health care costs detrimentally affect their profits in the competitive global economy, expanding health care reform in rational ways should have more widespread political support than fourteen years ago.

Obama has selected nearly all of his high level advisers, unlike Clinton before he took office. Obama is also likely to have, with his highly disciplined chief-of-staff, a much better organized White House staff, than Clinton did during his first couple years as president.

Circumstances, of course, are different, but Barack is also being wise to confer with Congressional leaders, unlike Bush, of both parties in seeking their support for a massive economic stimulus bill. The question is to what extent emphasizing infrastructure projects, that will take many months to show beneficial economic results, while probably providing insufficient tax relief to individuals, will actually provide the desired stimulus to the economy.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 6, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Obama comes into office with a reservoir of goodwill after a reasonably good transition, a big election win, and frankly, the fact that he's not Bush. That will help him in the beginning, but he's got to deliver results. Economic stimulus should be THE issue - the public wants it, Democrats are behind it, and Republicans don't have a clear alternative (and don't want to be seen as obstructionist). That can then generate momentum for more difficult items on Obama's agenda like universal health care, stopping global warming, and repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." If Obama can't pass legislation on this key issue where the stars are all aligned, it's hard to see how he'll be able to tackle something with a lot more controversy.

Posted by: jwright012 | January 6, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

wow a Lib who can count to FOUR. you must have been at the top of your women's issues class.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 6, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I heard that Obambi has convened a commission of 200 experts to help him decide what color tie to wear to his big fete. I suspect he may not be able to decide in time, if his history is any clue.

now where did I put those Greek columns???

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 6, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"anyone surprised??? big spending Lib comes to town. the word deficit is banned from the NYTimes."

And then you go on to quiote an article that says deficit FOUR TIMES. More proof you're a nutcase.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 6, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

TheBabeNemo,

So, are we at war, or are we not? Are these people criminal conspirators, are they ilegal combatants, or are then "other persons" who the US government has the power to do whatever they want with without any oversight whatsoever? Do you beleive in America, or are you in such a state of panic that you no longer care, so long as someone somewhere claims to be keeping you safe while undermining the very moral superiority that is required to win this war? What is it?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 6, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

You is the one that has not properly vetted by the Post, the first 100 days, are you nuts, he is not even the president yet, don't try to be a god that can see the future and please talk to your comrades, leave the Obama kids alone, damned perverts.

Posted by: postDC | January 6, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I believe Obama should focus more on global poverty issues. We spend 550 billion annually on defense spending and only need 30 billion annually to end world hunger. The Borgen Project has is a good source for these issues.

Posted by: willborgenproject | January 6, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

The Geneva Convention rules Prisoners of War.

Let me repeat....prisoners of war.
Gitmo.

Or gee whiz everyone, I seem to remember a regular day...hmmm...oh yes,
I think it was a regular day,
September 11, 2001, when 19 hijackers took control of 4 planes that all crashed in disaster, killing alot of people.
Matter of fact, some of those people literally "flew out windows".
Yes, I seem to remember something like that.
SO before passing judgement on Gitmo, prisoners of war, and the Geneva Convention, take a moment to remember.
Or did you all forget, like you said you never would !

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 6, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

anyone surprised??? big spending Lib comes to town. the word deficit is banned from the NYTimes.

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama says the nation probably faces huge deficits for years to come, but heavy spending is needed now to spur the economy.

Obama said Tuesday the deficit appears on track to hit $1 trillion soon. Speaking to reporters after meeting with top economic aides, Obama said: "Potentially we've got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, even with the economic recovery that we are working on."

He wants Congress to approve a stimulus plan of about $775 billion.

The federal deficit was about $455 billion when the last fiscal year ended on Sept. 30, 2008.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 6, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama hired Clintons staff. So much for change. Obama learned that by offering something for nothing he would get votes. it worked. He will raise taxes and deplete our already dwindling rights but he only promised "change". Some might consider he never got too specific about what that "change" would be.

The media needed someone to love and so they sold us Obama. I voted and I earned my right to complain and sit out the next four years when we finally force the definition of change.

Obama's wife does not look like Jackie Kennedy. Why would she want too? She does not have any "style" and I really don't care if her big thing in life is the sacrifice of having her children grow up "normally". Her children just earned a free ticket so quit whining until you have something real to whine about. Oprah finally got a president and she's vowed to lose weight for him. Do we really have these conversations? Please!

We will spend the next few years censored because any criticism will be because he's black. It worked on the campaign and it will work for about 2.5 years.

I wish everyone well with their "change", I'll ignore the silliness about what she's wearing now, I will maintain my freedoms at all cost and I wait for the next fool that can afford a political sign to be elevated to something beyond mortal man. Maybe we would have done better with a King or Queen. They don't bother to lie about doing nothing and living off the masses. I don't want "change", a little honesty would do.

Posted by: Barclay1 | January 6, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Hopey McChange agenda for 1st hundred days:

1. Make a decision, the dog would be a good start.
2. reward all out of work, useless clinton retreads with a position somewhere.
3. spend as much as all previous presidents combined.
4. continue to pretend to know what you are doing.
5. hope, hope, hope no one overseas gets out of line.
6. blame bush
7. deposit money into secret account
8. avoid birth certificate revealation
9. act is if you are not corrupt, like everyone around you.
10. try to keep your cabinet out of prison, well at least some of them
11. run for reelection NOW.
12. vote PRESENT
13. Make grand speeches, do nothing else.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 6, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

there's alot on the table for President Elect Obama.
He's not going to solve everything in 100 days.
One thing I would like to see is
de-authorization of the USA Patriot Act.
It was, and remains, good for nothing but taking American citizens' liberties away--under the guise of safety issues.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 6, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"It's the economy stupid."
Spend another great wad of cash early.

Be seen with a message of "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

While waiting for the cash to trickle down - that's a toughy for me. I can't even guess. Clinton will - of course - establish a second home in the Middle East - exiled until peace is established or the troops are out of Iraq (which ever comes first).

Closing Gitmo should be done earlier rather than later. There's lots of policy-wonk type stuff that won't make the headlines: Dealing with 'Loyal Bushies' in the Justice Department, torturers in the CIA, wiretappers in the NSA. Can't fire them, but Turkmenistan should be fully staffed by qualified people.

Posted by: DonJasper | January 6, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

In his first hundred days the President should be able to:

1.Sign a new bailout package
2.Close Quantanomo
3.Get DC Vote legislation passed in the House
4.Move the Matthew Shepard Act -aka- hate crimes through the house.
5.Sign S-chip children's health care expansion
6.Get his entire cabinet approved

If he does these things he will be viewed as a success.

Posted by: peterdc | January 6, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The greatest lesson that President Obama can take away from President Clinton is that your wife and first lady is not a lobbyist, nor should she be dispatched to shape federal policy.

Being in close proximity to the president does not give the first spouse the mandate of the people. The spouse was not elected to serve in any capacity other than protocol demands.

Posted by: lindaj4 | January 6, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Biden and Hillary Clinton will bring our troops home from Iraq fast. As a prize to the gay community OBAMA is selecting Bill White as the First openly gay professional as the Director of the Navy. The gay community and Barnie Mack should be happy with this choice.

Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | January 6, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The Clintons were too ambitious with trying to push through controversial items- and wound up compromising and pleasing noone with things such as "Don't ask, Don't Tell" - it is important to do the morally right (correct) things and the things that are universally popular first- so the following is a list of things:

No particular order

1) Remove the "Mexico City order"- allow funding to women's health organizations that support more than abstinence.

2) Freeze interest rates on variable loans- allow for renegotiation for people in danger of losing homes

3) Close Guantanamo- put people into the regular justice system- laws are laws- we can not torture and if that means people go free- we need to keep track of them after

4) Halt all illegal phone tapping

5) Pass CHIP

Posted by: nycLeon | January 6, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

37thandO, you're just not trying anymore, are you?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 6, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Back to the thread at hand, Obama needs a simple agends with a clear focus. He's got that going right now with the economy. The stimulus package is job 1, hit that in the first three weeks. Meanwhile, work on some low-hanging fruit to build up a steady list of accomplishments without wasting political capital. This swill include some civil liberties-related reforms at DoJ and CIA, some rescinding of Bush executive orders, etc.

After the stimulus package, infrastructure. Work with state governors toward specific public works projects that will create jobs and repair our badly neglected infrastructure.

At the close of the first 100 days, healthcare. Thisl, like infrastructure, will fit into the mold of reforming the economy. Use the Big 3 as a startingpoint, buying out their legacy union contracts to relieve them of that debt to make them competitive again. Fuse those healthcare programs with several other government sponsored provate plas (like Tricare, etc) as the foundation for expanding healthcare coverage to the lower and middle classes.

This is more than enough for the 100 days, and is doable if the economy remains the centraol focus, and economic growth and not ideological rigidity remains the focus.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 6, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

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I just do not see any leadership abilities in Obama - he looks like he is play acting -


It is almost like he is in college reading off some text in a mock news conference.

What is most troubling is that I sense in Obama a feeling that he knows he can not handle the job - that he is way out of his league - that he knows something is going to come crashing down on him soon.

He just does not have confidence in himself.

It is almost like he has some deep dark secret that he has not revealed to us - there is a sadness to him - he is almost a broken man even before he starts - there is something seriously wrong.


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Posted by: Yes37thandORulesForever | January 6, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Yep, just like when Obama picked Sarah Palin as his running mate!

Oh, wait. That was the other guy...

Posted by: Bondosan | January 6, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, how much did BURRIS pay for the appointment?'

Right off the high horse to taking the low road, I see. Of course, you have some evidence that he paid for his Senate seat, right? You wouldn't be making such an outlandish statement purely for naked Republican politics and self-interest, would you?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 6, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

This is a great point from lightnin001:


This is to be expected when qualifications, experience, patriotism, and the best interests of the nation are held in contempt, and only naked politics, cronyism, and self-interest are valued.


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Posted by: Yes37thandORulesForever | January 6, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

No one would have planned a OF THIS. Other than winning the Presidency the rest has been coincidental political bad luck beyond Obama's control. I hope his luck is better in foreign (war in middle east) and domestic policy (economic turmoil). The President always takes the share of the blame or credit (most of it not due to them) for all.

Posted by: star_key2 | January 6, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The circus has begun! Obama hasn't even been inaugurated yet, the new Congress hasn't even been seated yet, but we're already seeing the kinds of "Hope" and "Change" we can expect from the "democrats", that were foretold. Richardson, Panetta, now the Burris meltdown! I suggest that we might now consider an additional descriptive term besides the commonly used "Cluster----", we could also refer to this type of situation now as a "Full Blagojevich!" This is to be expected when qualifications, experience, patriotism, and the best interests of the nation are held in contempt, and only naked politics, cronyism, and self-interest are valued. (By the way, how much did BURRIS pay for the appointment?)

Posted by: lightnin001 | January 6, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Clinton 92 campaign theme: It's the economy, stupid. Clinton 93 first big controversy: gays in the military. Lesson for Obama: It's still the economy.

Posted by: dritchey1 | January 6, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

1) Immediately extend manditory Healthcare to anyone making less than $100,000, and tax them on a sliding scale.

2) Announce national review of all bridges, tunnels and water, sewer projects and schools for compliance with current law and a process for state and national support for immediate action.

3) Henceforth, immediate review of all federal detention facilities (here and abroad) with a immediate halt to prisoner
abuses and "waterboarding" techniques. Closing Guantanimo.

4) Review of all SEC processes with a clear mandate for reform of financial transactions to restore confidence in our financial systems. Double the enforcement staff.

Posted by: morgangale | January 6, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Obama has already shown that he learned the lessons of the Clintons re. health reform. He has moved the locus of activity and detailed decision-making from the White House to the Congress, and he will ask Congress to take the lead in producing legislation that implements his broader vision. That is something the clintons definitely did not do. They kept the process within the White House, shut out Republicans completely, and angered many Democrats. They also attempted to do everything at once, with relatively little input from the public or even powerful interest groups. Obama is starting with the grass roots and that can only help him when it comes time to pass legislation.

Posted by: LindaB1 | January 6, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure about the premise of the question. You always hear that "he who does not study history is condemned to repeat it," which would support your idea. But what about the opposite danger of "fighting the last war"? I think the Obama team excels at looking at things with 2008 eyes, so I expect them to continue to surprise me with out-of-the-box thinking including brilliant communications management.

If we have to force this into a 1992 box, we're down to a dreary, and largely irrelevant, list such as: have a good crisis management plan in case of another Waco, don't appoint a family member or best friend to run a top-level, must-win task force, and avoid cultural wedge issues like gays in the military as your first initiative. Easy to see all of that in hindsight!

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | January 6, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"so far it has been a laugh a day. It seems not one person over there knows a thing about what they are doing.
this was expected.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 6, 2009 11:40 AM |"
--------
I agree Zouk, the last 8 years have been exactly as you describe, except the laugh a day part.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 6, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

so far it has been a laugh a day. It seems not one person over there knows a thing about what they are doing.
this was expected.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 6, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse


1st 100 days...
let's see,
stay alive for one thing
and
put some armor on, because if President Elect Obama does NOT solve every problem in the world within the first 100 days,
he will be massacred in the press.
He must solve EVERYTHING in 100 days or else !!!!!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 6, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

OBAMA JOB #1: RESTORE CIVIL LIBERTIES,
STOP DOMESTIC 'OPS' THAT ENDANGER DEMOCRACY

There is a good reason that Obama has selected Leon Panetta as his nominee for CIA director. He is aware that the CIA and other secretive civilian and military intel agencies have become a refuge for ideologues who are alleged to be executing "social engineering" operations under the cover of statecraft...

...doing great harm to civil liberties and to the economic and physical well-being of thousands of unjustly "targeted" Americans.

After months of this writer's reports about the use of silent, potentially deadly radiation devices and weapons to harass and torture American citizen "targets," the Justice Department has acknowledged that hand-held microwave and laser weaponry is headed to police departments across America.

But victims of radiation weapons torture maintain that such devices already are in use by military, security and intelligence operatives on the federal and local levels -- and that the use of these weapons has degraded American lives; caused physical and psychological harm; and threatens the safety of security personnel themselves, who may be getting "dosed" along with their targets -- or who may become victims as criminals get ahold of radiation weaponry.

The widescale deployment of radiation weapons among the American military-security-law enforcement complex is a symptom of an underlying danger -- a brazen bypass the judicial system, and constitutional guarantees of due process, by way of extrajudicial targeting and punishment.

Obama must excise this cancer by putting an immediate halt to extrajudicial targeting, punishment, and the warrentless surveillance and search and seizure policies that facilitate the operations of "The American Gestapo" -- a network of authoritarians on the federal and local levels who have turned our democratic republic into a police state.

And Congress must outlaw radiation weapons use among civilian populations.

For the full story on domestic torture via radiation weaponry and the threat to democracy, see:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (if link is rendered disabled): Members.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 6, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Chris,

You cannot avoid the pitfalls of politics. The press lives on political stories. They will make issues where they do not exist, while not covering the important issues of the day.

OIL: The price of oil is going back up. The best way to stimulate the economy is to keep money in peoples pockets by keeping down the price of oil. Could you imagine how bad holiday retails sales would have been without a 60 % drop in the price of gas?

WHERE IS CONGRESS AND OBAMA?

Obama and Congress are no where to be found on the issue of regulating the speculators. Oil is a national security issue which impacts our economy and the world economy.

Not a word of policy on regulating the speculators from Obama or the Democrats who are in control.

So will Obama avoid the pitfalls of the first 100 days? No, because politics is what it is, and the press will ignore the real stories and just make up their own for good measure.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: bobbywc | January 6, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Get real Cris. Barack Obama didn't study "...the haphazard transition of the last Democratic president-Bill Clinton-in order to avoid making the same mistakes". Obama has zero experience in anything, and is simply trying to compensate for that by digging up Clinton's re-threads. His own circle of friends, mentors, and associates that he's had for all of his adult life have all been Socialists, Marxists, black liberationists, America--hating terrorists, and racist white--haters, and these radicals are the last people any reasonable person would choose to run anything. Barack Obama--if he could get away with it--would probably pick his good friend Louis Farrakhan as his Sec. of State, his good friend Bill Ayers Commerce Secretary, and I'm sure his good friends Jerimiah Wright Jr., Bernadine Dohrn, Tony Rezko, Rod Blagojevich, Michael Pfleger, and a few others like that would also get a good job representing the Obama administration.

Posted by: armpeg | January 6, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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First of all, the trade deals have radically altered the economics of stimulus packages - if the US stimulates the economy with massive spending, that will NOT get our factories going again, it will get the factories in China and the rest of Asia going again.


This is a serious problem.


There was a trade imbalance before this crisis - the same imbalance will cause the stimulus package to have a muted effect.

Next, while the democrats may be in a rush to do "something" there have been many mistakes made in Washington and on Wall Street over the past 15 years - a quick fix may do more harm than good - PLUNGING this nation into debt, or even worse into inflation and stagflation.

So far the cabinet picks have been guided by a shallow reading of the Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, comparing that era to this one which have little in common.

It appears that a shallow reading of FDR and the depression is not even close to what is necessary to understand what is needed today: the economy of the 1930s and the economy of today are so radically different that a stimulus package like Obama's is not going to work.

We have already been through two versions of Paulsen's plan.


Running up the debt with a massive spending plan is not going to work - it could actually cause more inflation - the economy is already marked by massive asset inflation - consumer prices have been held down.


The situation is serious and I just don't see an idealogical-driven plan working right now.


The democrats are desperate to say, their way is better, they know better than anyone else, the left is here to save everyone - but that is not going to work and such arrogance is going to hurt the economy even more.


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Posted by: Yes37thandORulesForever | January 6, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Bondosan and Mark,
One big advantage that Obama (and Biden even more so) has is that he has worked in the Congress with all of these people and already has the personal relationships that y'all were talking about.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 6, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I think Obama needs to do three things to ensure a successful first 100 days. In order
1) Is pass some sort of stimulus package with public works projects and tax breaks as he has proposed.
2) Come out against the occupation of the Gaza strip by Isreal, and send Joe Biden over to the Middle East to show how serious we are about resolving that situation (he could send Hillary, but she has to be confirmed first which could take some time).
3) Pass a comprehensive clean energy plan.

The stimulus plan is self evident.

The Isreal move would show the entire world that he is serious about addressing the problem of the Middle East, and to come out against Isreal would signal a clean break from the Bush Administration. Also it would create a tremendous amount of good will with Europe, and the other middle eastern states. Which we will need in 9-12 months when Iran goes nuclear.

The Clean energy package is an appeasement to the progressive movement who put him where he is, and it addresses the biggest threat to our planet.

Posted by: AndyR3 | January 6, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

There are many lessons to be learned, not just from Clinton's early days, but from all of the recent presidents.

David Gergen once commented that the Reagan White House had observed that Carter tried to accomplish too many things at once, so they were careful never to have more than two or three major items before Congress at any one time.

One lesson from the current Bush White House is that you can get a lot done if your party is willing to march in lock-step with you (I am reminded of Will Rogers famous comment: "I belong to no organized political party--I am a Democrat.") Hopefully the Democrats have learned their lesson and will work together.

One lesson for Congress can also be found from the Carter era: they had become lazy. It took years to move major legislation forward, which ultimately paved the way for the Gingrich Revolution. Although I despised him, he proved that Congress could move fast when they wanted to.

Lastly, I concur with some of the previous comments about regular dinners, etc. with the House and Senate leadership. However, I'd go even farther: As the Obamas don't have a Crawford or a Kennebunkport to return to on the weekends, I imagine they'll be getting a lot of use out of Camp David.

Why not invite groups of five or more members of Congress from both parties, together with their spouses and kids to come up for weekends?

Personal friendships and relationships can be built, and that can go a long way towards reducing the poisonous atmosphere in Washington.

Posted by: Bondosan | January 6, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Obama needs to put back the 100,000 police officers program that Bush cut from the budget last year. In addition, Obama needs to expand the middle class much like the cops program. We need teachers, nurses, social workers, accountants and accountability in our government. The tax cuts and the bail outs are nothing more than bonus money and as history shows has a short stimulus effect. Trickle down economics helped overseas investments,but failed to trickle down to the shrinking middle class, which finally shrunk. The United Nations should have a bigger stick and more military from around the world to keep the peace in the world. Isreal should send missiles into gaza at the same preportion as hamas sends missiles into Isreal, while giving press conferences on the numbers that hamas sends everyday. Isreal will send less in when Hamas sends less in. A reward for $50,000 for every rocket launcher turned in could reduce the rockets being launched by Hamas. The solution should be a one state solution and they can live together. Freedom of religion like we are supposed to have. Obama should educate America with the ideas from countries that have low illiteracy rates. Tax the rich since they seem to have all the bonus money and really what do you need with more than 2 million dollars a year after taxes. Have 2 class health care, which will give the poor a place to get health care for 100's of dollars instead of thousands and 10's of thousand's of dollars. The ones that can afford better care hospitals can go to better care facilities, which should be lower priced, because of the lack of poor people being helped without paying the bills. I hate to be president, because the first hundred days of the past don't apply to the extensive amount of problems this country has amassed. Congress is a slow institution and are generally uncomfortable to be pushed to do anything. Clearly the immediate goal is to get middle class jobs back so the tax rolls can help fund all the other things that are needed like infrastructure, which usually needs local, state, and federal funds. The problem with that is the states are broke.

Posted by: mcbartold | January 6, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

1] I echo RickJ's sentiment that BHO must project honesty.

2] He must also project optimism.

Both 1] and 2] necessitate his apparent availability through press conferences, interviews, and the web.

3] He must court Congress, Ds and Rs, like a suitor - have leadership for dinner at the WH every two weeks, call key Congress members or have JB call them on a regular basis - the sort of 'ole boy/girl politicking that made Ike-LBJ-Rayburn a success, and that Reagan learned.

The Panetta appointment violated 3].

4] His decision making should be explained, and if necessary, defended, in plain English.

The proposed tax stimulus violates 4] just as GWB's tax stimulus could not withstand any scrutiny.

There are more ways to extend the goodwill, but these four will take him a long way through the crises.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 6, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

In addition to the economic and military challenges Obama faces, he'll also have to deal with an electorate that is expecting very large things from him. The best way for Obama to proceed is to set the tone with his inaugural address by promising his honesty to the public.

He has built up enormous goodwill from the public and needs to make sure that he retains this for as long as possible. If he's square with people, they should be able to grant him wide berth while he gets his feet under the Oval Office desk.

(In comparison, Clinton entered the White House with people somewhat suspicious of him, based on the implied sexcapades and shady business dealings. He entered the White House with a thin reserve of public goodwill, that was quickly dissipated with the help of the rabid right wing Republicans..)

Posted by: RickJ | January 6, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

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