President Obama Hitting the Ground Running Day One
Editor’s Note: In 2009 I wrote a piece for RuseMagizne.com, “President Obama Hitting the Ground Running Day One,” about the fast start of President Barack Obama in his first 25 days. As we approach 75 days of the Donald Trump administration, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on the early days of Obama’s first 100 days.
Last summer on the campaign trail, candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, current Secretary of State, put forth the notion the nation needed a president who was able to hit the ground running on day one. She urged voters to select her as president because her primary opponent, Barack H. Obama, did not have the experience to tackle the ills of the country from the proverbial “get go.”
Candidate Obama dismissed this as silly campaign rhetoric and pledged his readiness to right the ship of State. On day one following the election, President-Elect Obama urged congress to act quickly to pass an economic stimulus plan that had been floating around congress all fall.
When President Obama took the oath of office twenty-three days ago, he again urged congress to act in the best interest of the American people by laying aside partisan differences. He urged passage of a massive stimulus package that he hoped will create jobs and rebuild the infrastructure of the country.
On day one, President Obama waved good bye to President Bush, and strolled into the Oval Office for the first time as the head man in charge. He took off his suit coat, rolled up his sleeves and began to tackle the thing that many say can not be done – restoring the American economy while fighting two wars abroad.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. If stuff hasn’t worked and people don’t feel like I’ve led the country in the right direction, then you’ll have a new president,” he told a group in Fort Myers, Florida after 21 days of on the job training.
The next day brought President Obama the first major victory in his young presidency – the House and Senate conference committee cleared way for passage of the most extensive economic recovery legislation since the New Deal. It was a victory won without spending much political capital, thanks in part to the failure of the Republicans to enter the fray. The GOP stuck to their guns and refused to vote for a measure that did not stimulate the pockets of the top third of the wealthy class with tax cuts.
The House version of the Bill did not garner any Republican votes and the Senate Bill, notwithstanding several compromises designed to gain Republican support only received three votes from the Republican side. Yet those three votes (Susan Collins, Maine, Olympia J. Snowe, Maine and Alan Specter, Pennsylvania) were keys in eliminating the prospect of a Filibuster that could have bogged Obama’s administration down like Napoleon in Russia.
The Republicans will have another chance to join the euphoria surrounding this ambitious stimulus plan when the final version comes up for a vote on Friday. The Bill as it now stands has $282 billion in tax relief and $507 billion in actual spending. Conferees scaled back Obama’s middle-class tax cut and the plan now calls for credits of up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families. The plan also provides for a one-time payment of $250.00 in the form of Social Security and disability support for persons receiving these benefits.
Seizing the moment, administration officials on Wednesday asked network executives if they were willing to air the signing ceremony in prime-time on Monday if such an event is planned. The networks declined to air this victorious moment in the early stages of the Obama presidency.
Although, the new president has just begun his work, we can not say that it is time for the fat lady to sing, but it is time for her to select the dress she is going to wear.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round, Easier to obtain Than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights by Charles Steele, Jr.; and the host of Beyond the Law with Harold Michael Harvey. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.