This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
President Barack Obama has run a fast race thus far. His first 100 days in office have been remarkably productive, particularly for someone who was serving in the Illinois state Senate only five years ago. A successful start augurs well for the rest of his tenure, but critics have reason to remain skeptical. Huge deficits, a seemingly limitless agenda and Washington's enduring partisan divide are just some of the challenges that could trip up this presidency.
In truth, the 100-day test is an artificial political construct. It is too little time to measure results or predict long-term performance. Still, it has become a convenient political device, pushed by the media and anticipated by the public. So far, Americans like what Mr. Obama is doing. Polls show that for the first time in five years, more Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction than vice versa. That, in itself, is an achievement. But here's the perspective: Mr. Obama's 62 percent approval rating is exactly where George W. Bush stood at this point in his own presidency.
President Obama's accomplishments in the first 100 days reflect his discipline, energy and political skills, though the economic crisis undoubtedly helped to persuade lawmakers to move swiftly in support of his sweeping plans. A partial accounting includes:
• A huge stimulus bill designed to reignite the economy.
• An order to close the Guantánamo Bay military prison.
• A related order putting an end to the use of torture.
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