Michael Riley’s “100 Days” Obama Paean Could Use a Little Perspective

As Barack Obama nears 100 days in office, major newspapers take notice. Yet what a difference a turn of the phrase makes.

First, Michael Riley leads off his “Potent voice of change” on the front page of today’s Denver Post:

One hundred days into his administration — forced by events and prodded by his own driving leadership style — Barack Obama has brought change to Washington that is bigger, bolder and far more risky than anything he articulated in his historic campaign.

What’s another way of saying that? Let’s ask the editors of the Washington Times:

Perplexed about complaints over Mr. Obama’s expansion of government, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham asked: “does no one listen during campaigns?”

It was these pundits who weren’t paying attention during last year’s campaign. In all three presidential debates, Mr. Obama promised to cut government spending and reduce the size of the deficit. He blamed the economic crisis on excessive deficits. At no time did candidate Barack Obama say that more deficit-spending was the solution.

Didn’t you hear, Washington Times? It’s not that Obama broke his promises. It’s that he is bringing change “that is bigger, bolder and far more risky than anything he articulated”. Riley seems to imply that Obama has had no choice but to pursue this reckless fiscal course. You can almost see where this is all going. If the massive government expansion is seen as succeeding, we must make obeisance before the President’s Olympian wisdom. If it is seen as failing, he can’t be held responsible; the choice was thrust upon him.

But then Riley points out just how much we all love the new President for this breed of change:

So far, a nation hungry for leadership appears to approve. A Gallup survey from last week found that 56 percent of respondents rated Obama’s job performance so far as excellent or good, compared with 20 percent who rated it as poor or terrible.

What if we put that Gallup survey in historical perspective? Leave it to the Times (H/T Gene Kinsey):

According to Gallup’s April survey, Americans have a lower approval of Mr. Obama at this point than all but one president since Gallup began tracking this in 1969. The only new president less popular was Bill Clinton, who got off to a notoriously bad start after trying to force homosexuals on the military and a federal raid in Waco, Texas, that killed 86. Mr. Obama’s current approval rating of 56 percent is only one tick higher than the 55-percent approval Mr. Clinton had during those crises.

Wait, so you’re saying that 56 percent approval after a President’s first 100 days isn’t so great? Like lower than Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and even George W. Bush? Don’t let little facts like that trip up the narrative.

Not that I’m surprised Michael Riley writes in glorified adoration of Barack Obama. He is, after all, the same Post reporter who published the script for the Left-wing attacks against Republican Bob Schaffer in last year’s U.S. Senate campaign, and who drained paragraphs of ink over the plight of Democrat Diana DeGette’s Congressional career without a blot for the ethical debate about harvesting embryonic stem cells.

But just in case you happen across the Post‘s front-page Riley article, now you have a little needed additional perspective.


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