WASHINGTON -- The national news media has been treating Barack Obama's first 100 days as a historical landmark, as if he's done great things instead of doing what we routinely expect from our presidents.
That is, to submit the major items on his campaign agenda to Congress for its approval that hasn't been very hard to get, considering his party has majority control of both chambers. Try getting your agenda, including the biggest tax cut in history, through a House controlled by the opposition party. Ronald Reagan did it against great odds as the economy sank into the worst recession since the Great Depression, and faced down the Evil Empire in the Cold War, to boot.
Obama also faces a nation plunging into a severe recession and two wars in distant lands. Congress has trimmed and passed his economic-recovery spending bill, enacted last year's leftover omnibus appropriations package, and has all but adopted his budget proposals with modifications.
But the vexing problems he came into office to fix not only remain, they have worsened -- and his job-approval polls have been sinking.
Unemployment continues its upward climb and will likely skirt 9 percent next week, and the economy continues to shrink. Mortgage foreclosures are rising, home values are falling, Obama's prescriptions for what ails us will add $9 trillion to the nation's debts, and government accountants say only a relatively small portion of the infrastructure stimulus funds will be spent before this year is over.
Abroad, Al Qaeda in Iraq has begun a new offensive to test Obama's mettle; the Taliban terrorists are resurgent in Afghanistan, threatening that country's tenuous democracy and flexing their muscles in Pakistan where a takeover would put nuclear weapons into their hands. Iran is becoming a threatening nuclear power. North Korea is close to developing medium-range missile capabilities.
Obama went to the economic summit in Europe to ask -- make that beg -- the G-20 industrial powers to pump billions more into their economies and to send combat troops into Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. He came home empty-handed on both counts.
The administration is closing Guantanamo prison without any decision on where we will put the most dangerous terrorists on the face of the earth. He banned aggressive interrogation and released classified memos -- against the advice of high-level intelligence officials -- that spelled out in minute detail how they are carried out, giving Al Qaeda and Taliban cutthroats critical information about how to withstand such practices.
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