The 100-day landmark is seen as a measure of potential rather than success.
Barack Obama’s stated intention just before taking office was to hit the ground running. Amid the country’s worst recession for 70 years, there was no time to waste. On day 28 he effectively signed a 787 billion dollar cheque to rescue the economy. The plan had struggled through Congress, resisted by Republicans who saw too much spending and too little tax relief. It will take time before anyone knows for sure if the heavy investment has worked, but if it doesn’t Obama’s critics will be waiting with sharpened knifes. For now though at least the public remains patient and willing to give their president the benefit of the doubt. If the jury is still out on the economy, the same can be said for promised health care reforms and guaranteed cover for some 46 million uninsured Americans. As well as a recession, Obama also inherited two wars from his predecessor but the strategy was to change. To fight Al Qaeda, the new administration would bring Pakistan into the equation rather than focussing purely on Afghanistan. And Obama sought to get the record straight on withdrawing troops from Iraq, announcing on day 38 of his presidency: “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010 our combat mission in Iraq will end.” There have been several signals of a shift away from Bush-era policies, such as on climate change and stem cell research; but the clearest came on day two of Obama’s term. Then he announced that the controversial Guantanamo prison camp would be closed within a year. Hurdles still remain, notably what to do with the inmates, but a new tone had been set. That conciliatory tone has spread to diplomatic relations with erstwhile ennenies of Washington. Obama said he would extend a hand if others unclenched their fists. There has been little time for economic plans and diplomatic gestures to take effect and there is plenty of time left for good intentions to unravel, but after 100 days in office Obama’s promise that ‘yes, we can’ has not been proven hollow.