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The First 100 Days

What must Obama accomplish right away? Political experts Dan Schnur and Richard Reeves give advice on the administration’s early laps.

What must new President Barack Obama accomplish right away? Two USC political experts give advice on the early laps.

“The economy comes first, second and third,” says Dan Schnur of the USC College, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. “Obviously, a president can’t fix a recession in one hundred days. But Obama can send a strong message to the voters, to the markets and to investors around the world that he has a plan and that he has the ability to make that plan happen.

“A sense of purpose and bipartisan cooperation on an economic stimulus package is the key to early success for him,” Schnur adds.

A great part of the presidency is reacting to events unforeseen, and no doubt things will happen in the first 100 days that we aren’t thinking about now, notes Richard Reeves of the USC Annenberg School, an authority on presidential administrations.

One important Obama task in the early portion of his term is to cement his domestic public image. “I think he can convince — perhaps ‘persuade’ is a better word — that he is a man of candor,” Reeves says. “With effort and luck, the American people might believe he is telling the truth about what he is doing and why. I think he can make an effort to be the president of the people who did not vote for him, beginning by reaching out to Republicans in Congress.”

There is also a change message to be delivered abroad. Reeves says: “I think Obama can move quickly to persuade most of the rest of the world that we do not expect them or even want them to be like us — and that we are not about to invade them.”

“Finally, Obama can admit the mistakes he made and talk about what he has learned from them,” Reeves adds.

In one important way, the role President Obama plays may be familiar from his days as Candidate Obama. Reeves explains: “Obama is, more than anything else, the leader of a new generation of Americans — and he has to begin to inspire and define that generation.”

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