I recommend Bruce Bartlett's latest Fiscal Times column to you, where he discusses how "Obama's Lack of Focus Could Be Politically Fatal." I'd like to offer two refinements:
First, Bruce argues that with regard to the 2009 stimulus plan, the medicine was appropriate but the dosage was inadequate:
By way of analogy, suppose you went to your doctor for an illness and he prescribed the correct medicine. But for some reason, you were given a dosage only half as big as necessary to cure your condition. Consequently, while you got better, you were not cured and continued to suffer. Under these circumstances, it is clear that the problem was not the medicine itself, but the dosage. Had you been given the correct dosage in the first place you would have been cured.
After he became preisdent, Lyndon Johnson used to say that if he walked on water his opponents would criticize him for not being able to swim
That's why it's important to remember that GOP Chairman Michael Steele's job is to be a political hack. He will criticize Obama no matter what he does on this..or any other...issue.
If the president didn't go to Copenhagen to push for the Olympic Games being in the U.S., Steele's criticism would have been that Obama was not willing to stand up for America, especially if other national leaders lobbied in person for the games and they were not awarded to Chicago. If Obama goes, Steele criticizes him for spending time on something he calls trivial.
"The First 100 Days" matter, but there are 1,361 to go in President Obama's first term. Getting off to a good start matters particularly when you start 10 yards deep in your own end zone. That Mr. Obama is still on his feet after inheriting two wars and the worst economy in 80 years is amazing. He hasn't scored any long gains, but he made a first down with the stimulus bill and smaller yardage expanding children's health insurance coverage, promoting equal pay for women, closing Guantanamo, and setting a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. He's also developing future draft picks on the international diplomatic scene.
I've been an economic policy wonk in Washington for too long to be impressed by a flashy run for daylight; I'm much more impressed by grinding out the yardage day in, day out. It's those third down plays that move the sticks that count. When the stimulus bill bounced off defensive linemen, he quickly scaled it back, took a stutter step, and pushed it through. That's the kind of quarterbacking that wins games.
I'm not one of those people who thinks "The First 100 Days" is that important. It's the political version of the first pitch on opening day: the fact that it is or isn't a strike is reported but that doesn't really signify much of anything. So with that proviso in mind....
If you like numbers, my colleague at Qorvis, Ron Faucheux, who runs our Clarus Research Group, put together this very nice...and short...summary: