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US media on Obama's first 100 days

Barack Obama
Mr Obama has had some lucky breaks, writes Ana Marie Cox

Nearly every newspaper columnist, blogger and feature writer has had something to say about Barack Obama's first 100 days in office.

The New York Times, in an editorial, provides an exhaustive appraisal of Mr Obama's activities in various key policy areas.

"President Obama has made a strong start," the newspaper argues, "[at addressing] the list of failed policies and urgent threats bequeathed to him by former President George W Bush".

"Mr Obama seems to have lifted the spirits of a divided and fearful nation," it adds, and "Americans can feel both pride and relief at the enthusiastic welcome Mr Obama has received in his early travels abroad".

But Mr Obama's economic plans do not meet with the newspaper's full approval.

"We are skeptical that the bank rescue plan is aggressive enough to salvage those that are at the edge of insolvency or protect the taxpayers' investment," it warns.

'Likable'

Andrew Sullivan and Ta-Nehisi Coates, bloggers for Atlantic Monthly, are also full of praise for Mr Obama.

Mr Sullivan, while finding "the whole anniversary thing kind of stupid", praises Mr Obama's "small-c conservatism" and notes that the Obamas have "establish[ed] a very powerful presidential aura".

Mr Coates agrees that "pragmatism has been one of the most welcome things after the eight years of ideology".

The more conservative Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, expresses some words of congratulation for Mr Obama.

"His cool confidence has lifted the public mood. He is a likable man who seems open to other arguments."

His is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time
Joe Klein, Time magazine

But the newspaper is doubtful about the president's attempts at foreign outreach, arguing that North Korean's "broken" nuclear promises despite Mr Obama's "open handshake" with Kim Jong-il's regime proved that President Bush was not to blame for North Korea's intransigence.

"Our guess is that Mr Obama's dalliance with Iran, Syria and other rogues will be similarly instructive," the Journal says.

The newspaper also expresses a fear that Mr Obama "views the financial crisis and the liberal majorities in Congress as a rare chance to advance the power of the state in American life" and notes that "the President doesn't like to do things that are politically difficult, such as stand up to Congress".

Time Magazine's Joe Klein, whose long-form appraisal of the president's first 100 days appeared in last week's edition of the magazine, is impressed by the scope of the new president's ambition.

The purpose of Mr Obama's presidency is "a radical change of course not just from his predecessor, not just from the 30-year Reagan era but also from the quick-fix, sugar-rush, attention-deficit society of the post-modern age."

"His is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time," Mr Klein adds.

Mr Obama's "legislative achievements have been stupendous", Mr Klein writes, and the president's "willingness to speak candidly about American failures when he travels at home and overseas... has opened the door for a new, co-operative foreign policy".

The final word should go to Ana Marie Cox, writing in the Daily Beast, who suggests that the new president has in fact received some lucky breaks during his first 100 days in office.

"Everything is breaking this guy's way. [Swine flu is]... a terrible crisis, but for the outbreak to come right after the Republicans try to block funding and delay Kathleen Sebelius's confirmation for Health and Human Services suggests at least one horseman of the apocalypse - pestilence - has switched parties," she writes.

"Clearly, God loves Obama."



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