First 100 Days: Presidential Personality

More than 10 percent of President Barack Obama's First 100 Days have passed. More on the substance in a moment.  But, interesting is trying to figure out President Barack Obama's demeanor.  What his "Presidential Personality" is or is becoming. 

Going into the Presidency, what I mostly heard not only from national figures but also from local politicians and the average voters I talked to throughout the Philadelphia region, is that they expected a calm, cool, above the fray personality in the Oval Office. Certainly, there has been evidence of that.  His Inaugural Address, his not encouraging swipes at Chief Justice Roberts over the swearing-in foulup, for example.  But, there have been signs that President Obama will display other aspects of Presidential Personality. His terseness with some reporters. His "I won" comment to some Republican members of Congress. And most notably, his direct assault on the greed of Wall Street with his saying that $18 billion dollars in bonuses was "outrageous" and the "height of irresponsibility."  Critics of the President will use these as evidence that he is unprepared for the hand to hand combat of Washington, even that he is naive about how business works.  But, supporters, especially those in the middle class, may like what they hear and see and interpret it as a more open, direct President and one showing a little more emotion.

In his first couple of weeks, the new President has made moves in keeping with his campaign promises. It also appears he is laying the ground work for larger decisions. Many positions to which he can appoint people still need to be filled. In other words, he is a typical new President in many senses.  However, these are not typical times and those larger plans have real opportunity to be passed.

Democrats are pleased with the Ledbetter law signing and the middle class task force.  As I mentioned before, some on the left are not totally happy with with Guatanamo Executive Order and the one changing methods of interrogation, but generally his Democratic base is ecstatic about the first couple of weeks. His order on raising fuel economy standards and allowing states to impose clean car standards stricter than the national requirments are well received with environmentalists. The New Jersey Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel expects the EPA will grant New Jersey a waiver to impose tighter restrictions. Lisa Jackson, the new EPA boss, worked for Governor Jon Corzine until her appointment. Says Tittel, "...we have great confidence that the new EPA administrator will sign off on the waiver that she has supported."

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President Obama's decision lifting restrictions on the use of taxpayers money in other nations relating to abortion and abortion counseling is applauded by the left. Here is how the Center for Reproductive Rights characterizes the President's decision: "...President Obama has taken a tremendous step in righting the wrongs perpetrated against women around the world by the Bush administration."

But, the President's memorandum is the first concrete decision the right is using to begin reassembling its base. The political issue is, however, more complicated than that. The right does not just mean Republican. There are many pro-life Democrats in Pennsylvania. I spoke with Michael Ciccocioppo, of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Fedeartion. The Federation is nonpartisan, but obviously is pro-life. Mr. Ciccocioppo tells me that President Obama's action, while not surprising to him, was nonetheless surprising to many pro-lifers, who had voted for him because they were "inspired by the way he presented himself" and influenced by other issues.  But now, "they've been hit between the eyes" and some have "buyer's remorse."  He says people have been coming forward in the last week to see how they can get involved in the pro-life movement.  Both sides are more clearly drawn now than during the campaign.

The Super Bowl.  It is interesting that President Obama took sides, backing the Steelers. He could have easily been bipartisan or noncommital.  Is this honesty or good politics?  The cynic says a Democrat needs to win Pennsylvania but can lose Arizona.  A give him the benefit of the doubt person would say maybe he's just a fan and a decider.


NBC10 Political Analyst Steve Highsmith is following President Barack Obama's First 100 Days online.

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