Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The First Hundred Days

I have been thinking and reading a great deal about both the idea of a president's "first 100 days" and also about how President Obama has fared in his early tenure as president. This is in large part because I will be participating on a roundtable on Obama's First Hundred Days next week after I arrive at the University of Keele, where I will be a fellow at the David Bruce Centre for American Studies for the month of May.

Alan Brinkley has an article at The New Republic in which he argues that Obama, in this mythical timespan, "has been less frenetic than Franklin Roosevelt's, but in some ways more productive." The comparison with FDR is both obvious and inevitable because of the fact that the very concept originates with FDR and because of the circumstantial analogy between today's financial crisis and that DR confronted when he took office.

I do not want to pre-empt my own presentation from next week, but in shorthand my view is: Too early to tell; first hundred days is a journalistic rather than a historical construct when it comes to analyzing most any president but FDR; There might be better comparisons to make than with FDR.

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