Today marks the 100th day of the Obama administration, the examination of which senior White House adviser (and former bureau chief) David Axelrod has dismissed as the "journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday."
And yes, from a policy standpoint, the president's town hall meeting tonight may be the equivalent of Grandparent's Day: observed by the easily manipulated and monetized by the shameless.
In the absence of anything substantive, 100 days in we have a wealth of punditry to comb through. Ever since FDR locked Congress in a dungeon and beat them into submission for the first 100 days of his presidency, the press has counted down to April 29, comparing each subsequent president to the original POTUS with a plan.
"Obama has something in common with two of our most successful presidents, FDR and Ronald Reagan: each was more popular than his policies," wrote Jamie Malanowski. "But each displayed a positive outlook –- 'Just win, baby!' as the great political philosopher Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders once put it."
In a saner world, The President of the United States of America would also carry the title of Earth's Supreme Overlord. So how do Obama's 5.7 billion other minions think he's doing?
"From the perspective of most outsiders, Obama is of course a success, simply because he is not the reviled George W. Bush," wrote James Fallows of The Atlantic from his home in China.
Fallows' colleague, the political weathervane known as Andrew Sullivan, has spent much of the last 100 days either demanding the legalization of gay marriage, howling about torture or gushing about Obama -– except when it comes to his policies on torture and gay marriage.
That "adult" is inspiring little more than contempt at libertarian bastion Reason, which has no natural home in either major American party. And so Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch mark the centennial comparing Obama to Fidel Castro, Jimmy Carter and "the guy who invented Dippin' Dots, Ice Cream of the Future."
For clarity's sake, these are not compliments.
"On issue after issue, Obama has made it clear that instead of blasting past 'the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long,' (as he promised in his inaugural address), he's moving full speed ahead toward policy prescriptions that already had less fizz than a case of Billy Beer," wrote Gillespie and Welch.
The urge is the same on the more orthodox end of the right. "The high point of the Obama first hundred days was the Inauguration," Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, told Politico when asked to assess Obama. "At that point Obama had not yet broken his promise never to raise any taxes on Americans earning less than $250,000. That promise would be broken 16 days into his presidency when he signed the bill to raise taxes on tobacco consumers—the only cigarette smoker in America earning more than $250,000 is named Barack Obama."
It's classic Norquist: bumper-ready, on-message, and easily disproved with a bit of Googling.
A more granular assessment of the first 100 days can be found at Politifacts.com, who has been literally keeping score of Obama's progress. "By marrying much of his domestic agenda to economics," write Robert Farley and Angie Drobnic Holan, "Obama has used the appetite for urgent response to a financial crisis to advance his overall plan on a wide range of fronts."
Of the 500 or so promises the organization is tracking, Obama has apparently kept 27, "with an additional 63 solidly in the works." Six are right out.
Over at Fox -- not Fox News -- they've decided to ignore Obama's non-event in favor of an episode of "Lie to Me."
The fact is inescapable that, whether out of spite or cost-benefit analysis, Rupert Murdoch's network is the only one treating this event with the shrug that Obama's own adviser admits it deserves. One hundred days in, the president is still really being dogged only by the fringe media of the right and the left.
Like Reagan, Obama seems to have the center on board for wherever he wants to take them.