Quick — what have you done since January 20? Passed comps? Oil changed? Rearranged the old sock drawer? Got that article published? Loaded up your new iPod? Figured out Moodle? Defragged your hard drive?
100 days is not such a long time. 3 months. Long enough for good intentions to thrive in microbursts of energy and initiative. Hardly long enough to make drastic changes in lifestyles or resumes.
But for the president of the United States, the first 100 days is the first Big Test, the period in which the watchdogs are in full heat ready to pounce on the smallest tidbit (what is Bo doing today?) while baring teeth close to the jugulars of policy and presidential action. Are the banks working again? Have you stimulated the economy sufficiently? Have we captured Osama? Did you really wear that to meet the Queen? Is Iraq still a mess? Did you fix the schools already? Did you friend Chavez? Why did it take so long to kill the pirates? Can I be sure a Ford Escape is a good idea? Is subjecting detainees to loud soundtracks of Celine Dion torture? Will Notre Dame survive your speech? Should Michelle wear sleeves? What are you going to do about all those senior citizens who can’t figure out the Medicare drug plan still? And how about that June date for the digital conversion? Will you bailout those of us who still don’t have cable tv? What have you done to stop swine flu?
And so on and so on…. Stop. Give it a rest! What is this mania? President Obama was quite right to chide the media on the “Hallmark Card” flavor of the 100-days chalk stripe. The pundits racing to declare judgment on this young presidency seem to have little perspective on what it takes to do the right thing, to accomplish goals with excellence and durability. They seem to lack the kind of perspective that might lead to restraint in pronouncing judgment because some things really do require time — and more, they require thought, study and prudence, not speed.
Governing this nation is not a reality show. Public Policy choices cannot be reduced to a call-in phone poll. At the risk of sounding increasingly like my mother, who I revere as increasingly wise the closer I get to her age, the Internet is not always a good thing. The 24/7/365 news cycle is making everyone nuttier than ever — and we don’t need much encouragement!
Slow down, everyone. We need long-term solutions to the economy, terrorism, health care, education. We need to allow those elected to govern to do so without the frenzy and pressure of the endless “gotcha” games that inevitably accompany the endless headlines. What the president has accomplished 700 days from now — about two years — will be far more durable than the tally of the first 100 days.
Back to the sock drawer. There must be some matching pairs in here somewhere….