Monday, May 04, 2009

It’s not the first 100 days, but the last 100 days that matter most.

I did an interview this week with CNN Money. They asked me to grade President Obama’s first 100 days in office. Here’s a link to the article, which was published this past Wednesday.

You’ve likely seen or read dozens of stories about the administration’s “First 100 Days.”


The president has the best approval rating at this point than any president in the last 20 years. The only presidents in recent history with higher ratings were Kennedy and Eisenhower. Those were different times. This nation started becoming politically divided in the late 60’s. Today it’s as divided as it’s ever been. Deeply divided.


All this aside, I really don’t care as much about how the president is doing the first 100 days of his administration as I do about how he is during the last 100 days of his first term. That will dictate if he’ll get a second term.


Before going further, let me say outright that I want the president to succeed. If he does, so do we. If he fails, we fail with him, and failure is not an option. So, let’s see where we’re at the first 100 days.


Spending trillions of dollars we don’t have might work. It hasn’t in the past, but you never know.


GM® and Chrysler® going bankrupt, laying off tens of thousand of workers and dumping classic brands might work out. Billions in bailouts haven’t worked, that we know for sure. Detroit isn’t selling cars. Detroit needs to sell cars to survive. Everything else is just a soggy Band-Aid.


Maybe making the 93 percent of people who pay their mortgages on time also pick up the tab for the seven percent that don’t might work.


Maybe Iran, Cuba and Venezuela might become our BFFs.


Ambitious plans for high speed rail are compared with the building of the interstate highway system supposedly started in the 1950’s. Expensive then and even more expensive now. What is not reported is that the interstate highway system plan originated in 1921 and won’t be completed until this year when a section of the original plan is completed in Pennsylvania, 88 years later. That’s a lot of 100 days.


Massive solar projects in places like the Mojave Desert are already running into opposition because of the damage to the ecosystem that would result. The same folks demanding alternative energy are now heading to court to fight it.


Some banks claim to be profitable. Many of them are the ones that got TARP Money. It’s hard not to make a profit when you get free money. Why aren’t those banks lending money to responsible people to buy homes? If they won’t lend us money, when will they give the money back that we lent them? Maybe all this will work, but I doubt it.


Should the government become majority shareholders in banks and automobile companies? That appears to be the plan. Maybe it will work.


The president wants a healthcare plan on his desk by August, before the summer recess. It’s as ambitious an overhaul of anything in this country ever undertaken. Maybe Congress can get something done in the next few months. They haven’t gotten anything else done, maybe they can this time.


Then there’s Afghanistan and Pakistan.


Measuring the success of the first 100 days of a presidency is about as relevant as when a team scores on the first drive of a football game. It’s the score at the end of the game that counts.

As I said in the CNN Money article, I'd much rather see him focused on what gets people back to work. Imagine he said the following to a stadium full of people: "I have many things I can work on. Should I get us health insurance or should I get people back to work? Should I close Gitmo or should I get the economy going?"  What do you think they would say?

The president’s agenda is impressive and expensive. Ratings are high. I wish him well.


Let’s revisit it all in about 1,300 days.



John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

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