It’s been just over 100 days since America started breathing again.
In fact, we’ve been holding our breath for a while now. From the moment the towers came crumbling down in 2001, we held our breath in jolted anticipation,wondering what the following months would bring. When the continuing war with Iraq gave way to a further and further end date, we held our breath with unhealthy, yet unwavering, patriotism.
And when Barack Obama burst onto the scene, invigorating our sense of hope and the possibility for change, we held our breath wondering whether he could meet our expectations and desperation for a new leader.
On April 29, he passed the 100-day mark that has seen prior presidents either rise to the occasion (claps all around, FDR) or fall into a premature political abyss (here’s looking at you, JFK). And while the American people breathe a sigh of relief, the Obama press machine has been working in hyperdrive, regardless of whether the administration is taking notice.
Obama has been fulfilling much of what he initially promised. And he’s been doing it with the same overarching ease and contemplative cool that had the public and the press initially write him off as some sort of naïve political hotshot — one trying desperately to stay afloat in the pool of popularity that was Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, seemingly backed with more experience and, most importantly, more money.
But now here we are, one year after the initial interest and 100 days after the actual inauguration. That those same news outlets are now beside themselves with pride for their country and over-the-top praise for their leader seems to be more a comment on the fading news industry, desperately plugging its primary stock as much as it can. After all, nobody can sell a magazine or newspaper like America’s — scratch that — the world’s — biggest celebrity.
Even Michelle Obama, whose patriotism was once questioned in the wake of her comments about feeling “proud of [her] country for the first time,” is now seeing higher approval ratings than her own husband. Her intelligence! Her class! Her plastic J-Crew belt! This woman can do no wrong.
(I, however, beg to differ. A see-through belt does no good for anyone.)
As of now, the most important change Obama has made is restoring our nation’s faith in its politicians and in itself, which in a post-Bush era is no easy feat. His strongest naysayers balk at his bevy of tasks, citing it as too much too soon.
Yet that ambition, that desire to delve into these disasters immediately, is not only invigorating our country’s spirit, but proving to his greatest skeptics that their concerns about him — he’s too timid, too inexperienced, too wishy-washy — are the hurdles he is least concerned about.
But even 100 days in, even with a new-wave politician like Obama, the constant flow of praise still seems freakishly premature. From the Middle East to the middle of Wall Street, both locations could damper whatever inspirational high the 100-day celebration is supposed to give us. Both could lead toward ideological and economic annihilation. Obama has yet to gain control of either.
But most of all, what the 100-day mark has truly punctuated is the collapse of the Republican Party, a juxtaposition that Obama and his administration actually require. We may love Obama, but that doesn’t mean we’ve truly fallen for the Democrats.
Sure, you’d be hard-pressed to find a 20-something in present-day America who doesn’t align himself with at least some componant of liberal ideology, but much of that is probably grounded in an “anything but the Republicans” outlook rather than an actual agreement over Democratic policies.
When our previous administration was in office, committing numerous domestic and global atrocities, it was the Democrats who sat in Congress, twiddling their thumbs until the next “green” bill came in. Maintaining your neutrality in times of moral crisis doesn’t scream innocence.
Republicans may have once controlled everything, but they seemingly accomplished very little. The Ronald Reagan disciples have seen their party crumble into a bull’s-eye of political discourse, all in an attempt to maintain their three upstanding beliefs: the cementing of a powerful defense, the preservation of traditional values and the belief in economic conservatism.
But those credos don’t mean the same thing anymore. Not in an era when a “powerful defense” has led to pre-emptive wars and the torturing of innocent civilians. Not when “traditional values” leave no room for same-sex marriage or pro-choice policies. And “economic conservatism” is a comical phrase in the wake of our current financial meltdown.
Republicans are fully aware that their only hope for political recovery would be Democratic failure, leaving Obama’s dependence on right-wing opposition in a catch-22. So now, as we face the next chapter of his presidency, let’s cease the celebration of his work thus far. We need to focus our attention on not only what has yet to be done, but also what the indirect consequences of his time in office have been so far.
But if the party that so recently ruled Washington can essentially go extinct in 100 days, you know he must be doing something right.