Obama At The Century Mark

Aquarian Weekly 5/6/09 REALITY CHECK

THE CENTURY MARK Joe Cool’s Honeymoon Epilogue

We have ten fingers and ten toes, therefore we make its denominations our benchmark; a decade, a century, a millennium, etc. But it wasn’t until FDR that we are now expected to judge the honeymoon period of a new president by his first 100 days. Okay, but when you consider that the last guy’s entire two terms hung on the events of 9/11/01, which happened long after the first 100 days, it tends to dilute its significance. However, in my lifetime alone the first 100 days have proven noteworthy. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had lousy first 100 days; the former never recovered, but the latter learned valuable lessons, rallied, and hung around to be re-elected. Hard to argue with either Lyndon Johnson’s or Ronald Reagan’s success in their first 100 days, then you remember Viet Nam and the economic collapse of 1982 and it dilutes them. So, in the interest of proper pundit decorum, where does Joe Cool stand after his century mark?

New Sheriff In TownBy any count, Barack Hussein Obama has been virtually unstoppable. He has already engineered the largest federal stimulus package in the nation’s history and in the process completely neutered the opposing party, while managing to balance his approval ratings in the sixties — not to mention his personal meter, which remains in the stratosphere. People love this guy. They love his youth, exuberance, his wife and family, his dog and the near butler-like penchant to please. They like that he isn’t like the last guy, or really any guy who has held the office. He even apologizes for dumb shit and humbly passes the credit for popular moves to his subordinates.

But he has not apologized for being liberal. No, sir. He promised it during the election and has come hard on nearly fifty years of post-war liberal agenda from healthcare to energy reform to government oversight. Change is flying all over the place. I recalled last week what a Republican insider told me after Captain Shoo-In finally wrested the presidency away from his opponent; “In six months, you won’t recognize this place.” He was right, and here’s something he may also agree with: It is getting harder each day to believe there ever was a President George W. Bush.

Oh, things haven’t been all that politically sunny. There were major screw-ups in cabinet appointments and several embarrassing kick-starts to the crack economic team, not to mention weird things abroad, but the air around Washington has gone from lockdown paranoia to a drunken spending spree of love and hope, and whether it all amounts to gangbusters or plain bust does not erase the 100-Day Sprint, which has come up gold for the new guy.

Unfortunately for his detractors, feces-hitting-fan won’t happen for sometime. But fear not, it will happen. It has to. No deficit can be this bloated and not sink something somewhere. Mass foreclosures are coming. Nasty doings in Pakistan are on the way. The auto industry is weeks from completely imploding. More partisan ugliness and party in fighting is definitely afoot. But for now it is wine & roses. Feds say the economy is beginning to show signs, and unless there is a major attack on this nation, then these first 100 days, whether fairly or not, will be determined by its health.

He has come to play with an odd combination of grace and muscle; the dexterity of a ballet dancer and the brutal force of a steroid-addled wrestler. It has been a tough act to impede, and it shows no signs of slowing.

There are those, and they are in the minority presently, that believe it less risky to wage war all over the place on Chinese loans than raising the tax rate three percent to prop up the banking system. They have had their say and if things continue to go badly or come up for air and then tank again, they will have their day once more. But for now, they are in the wilderness.

Case in point: One Arlen Specter, the 29-year senator from Pennsylvania, knows a good escape hatch when he sees it. He has decided to ceremoniously hitch his wagon to the winning team, knowing that local squeakers in state primaries pale in comparison to steamrollers in the national headquarters. Specter came in with The Gipper. He knows good Mojo. So he jumps the sinker for a shot at The Win. He wants to stay a senator and he doesn’t care who knows it. He doesn’t lie about his sexuality to stay around or give big speeches about morality. He wants a clear road to victory and cannot see it as a Republican anymore. Fair enough. Joe Lieberman had a similar revelation two years ago, went all independent, and then decided to sharpen his hawk talons. But he was sent back to the Democrats with a whipped tail between his legs never to be heard from again.

Soon the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof 60 strong in the Senate and continue to stranglehold the congress. The man at the top, for all the talk about his inability to lead from day one has hit the ground in a full-flail, throwing everything everywhere, and making it look like an evening stroll. He has come to play with an odd combination of grace and muscle; the dexterity of a ballet dancer and the brutal force of a steroid-addled wrestler. It has been a tough act to impede, and it shows no signs of slowing.

History tells us the storm clouds are coming. They always do. Things are tough now, but most of the bad stuff was cobbled together by someone else over a long stretch. Right now the “Not My Doing” chant works. Soon the bad smell will end up on him, as it does with all the guys in the Big Chair, and that is usually when the mettle is tested and the pudding bares proof.

I agree with conservative columnist, David Brooks when he said the other day that Obama has bitten off more than anyone could chew and that always leads to choking. But after 100 days with the majority of the public and the legislative branch of the federal government in his back pocket and a crippling economic crisis filling his sails, he’s come up aces. It is the pinnacle of civic chest-thumping — a political juggernaut whose shit has yet to stink.

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