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April 29th, 2009
06:51 AM ET

A Centrist’s Defense of Obama’s First 100 Days

John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. He writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast and is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "John Avlon was director of speechwriting and deputy director of policy for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign."]

By John Avlon
Special to CNN

Washington’s been crawling with professional partisans who delight in describing the death of President Obama’s post-partisanship at the end of his first 100 days.

For people conditioned to a vision of politics as an ideological blood sport between red states and blue, attempts at building broad coalitions to solve problems can seem saccharine and unsatisfying. Yes, President Obama has found a sometimes rocky transition from the poetry of campaigning to the prose of governing. The rules of Congress are rigged to reward hyper-partisanship, and interest-groups like to pump up the volume in their respective echo chambers.

But President Obama has made a good faith effort to follow through on his promise to end the politics of polarization. It’s only a start – and his rhetoric has often far outpaced his record on this front – but a culture can’t be changed in 100 days. The important thing is for President Obama to keep trying to write the presidential post-partisan playbook – because that’s been the secret of his success to date.

A CNN poll shows that 61% of independents approve of Obama’s job performance, edging toward the administration in the cavernous gap between the extremes. The Gallup Poll shows 62% of independents believe that President Obama is making a sincere effort to work with congressional Republicans, while they see congressional Democrats and Republicans as obstructing bipartisan efforts.

This is far from a blank check for the Obama administration – centrists and independents remain wary of the influence of the liberal House leadership on the Obama legislative agenda, especially on spending and the absence of checks and balances to special interest wish list items. But to this independent observer’s eyes, President Obama has earned a solid B+ in his first 100 days.


Filed under: National Report Card • Politics
April 29th, 2009
06:20 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Wednesday April 29, 2009

The President’s 100th day in office.  How’s he doing so far?  What can we expect in the second 100 days?  From botched appointments, to pirates, to his approach in times of crisis, the President is already revealing how he will lead.  We want to hear how you grade the president.  Call 877-MYAMFIX.

The swine flu source. Confirmed or suspected outbreaks now in nine American states. At least 64 confirmed cases.  Hundreds more suspected here and thousands around the world. 152 deaths in Mexico are now linked to swine flu. And now – we know the source.  He’s being called “patient zero.”  He’s a five-year-old boy who lives tucked away in a small mountain village off a dusty road flanked by pig farms in Mexico.  He survived the earliest documented case of swine flu in an outbreak that, officials say, has now spread across four continents, and CNN found him.

Swine flu stop signal.  The swine flu outbreak in Mexico has caused tourists to cancel or postpone their vacations. Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world: what impact is this outbreak having on the industry and the overall economy?

Swine flu twitter fog.  Twitter is soaring with posts and chatter about the swine flu.  Some of it is pretty good and useful.   Unfortunately, a lot of it is hype and exaggeration and even false. That is fueling concern that unfiltered talk about the disease will create fear and confusion, as people turn to the hugely popular blogging site for information.

Filed under: What's On Tap
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