Obama’s 100 days

A “hundred days” proposal for Obama.

On the issues, Obama has a choice. He can play defence, relying on the Democratic hold on the high ground. He laid out his key policies in his convention acceptance speech, and anybody can find the details in the platform. Individually, these policies meet with substantial approval. So why hasn’t this huge advantage translated into voting preferences? GOP slime and spin is part of it. Obama is not a natural gutter brawler, so the Dems are forced to play a mainly defensive game on “character”: which won’t inspire anybody.

Or he can attack on his own chosen ground of policy. De l’audace, de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace. My suggestion: double up with a First Hundred Days promise. This is good governance too: the most controversial policies have to be launched in the short honeymoon of a new Administration, so hard choices on timing will anyway have to be made within the policy agenda. Make them now.

My shopping list:

  • an economic recovery plan heavily weighted to investment in green energy and road and rail infrastructure;
  • a simple bill to be submitted to Congress setting up a universal backup public health insurance network, as the first instalment of a universal health care plan;
  • an agreement with Maliki setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and reinforcement of forces in Afghanistan;
  • the abolition of torture on Day 1; closure of Guantanamo; and the setting up of a truth and justice commission to report to the American people on the abuses carried out in their name during Bush’s GWOT, and propose ways of restoring the rule of law and honour in the struggle.

This can surely be improved: write your own. But the list must be short, at most ten items. And Obama must mean it.

Then he can challenge John McCain to say what changes he would make in his first hundred days.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web