For the past hundred days, we news junkies have been saturated with cable news, Sunday talk shows and the news in general based on what will and did happen during the first hundred days of the new administration. I am not going to recount the achievements or lack thereof. As far as I'm concerned, I'm at day 101, and day 100 is dead.
But it may be useful from a historical perspective to look at the first 100 days of the prior administration in 2001. Promising fiscal restraint, the new group pushed a $1.2 trillion tax cut. The Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill, counseled that the basis for that cut was an ethereal $5 trillion surplus that might dwindle, substantially, if the economy faltered, contributing to renewing deficit spending, and that tax cuts have a serious lag effect that might produce inflation if the economy that was showing signs of recession, turned around before the cuts took effect. Ultimately, a tax cut that cannot be called back could cause inflation or increase the debt.
Candidate Bush saw that global warming was an important issue that led his EPA secretary, Christine Whitman, to boast that the U.S. would support much of the Kyoto Protocol. No sooner did she return from a meeting in Europe than the stone-faced Bush gave her a memo, ostensibly written by Dick Cheney, that pulled the rug from under her and left her dangling in the wind.
Candidate Bush claimed that his administration "will not engage in nation building." Ten days into office, the National Security Council began to develop plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein and create a democratic nation state in Iraq, despite the protests of his Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
These are the issues that occupied President George W. Bush during his first 100 days in office. I would like to say occupied, but that is probably beyond Bush's pay grade. Judging from the candid review of his experience in that administration, Paul O'Neill provides clear insight into the president's thought process, or rather the lack thereof. In Ron Suskind's book "The Price of Loyalty," O'Neill relates that no one inside or outside the government - here or across the globe - had heard the president analyze a complex issue, parse opposing positions and settle on a judicious path.
Whitman and O'Neill left the administration. Powell, the dutiful military man, remained to suffer the indignity of a UN speech claiming that Saddam had identifiable WMDs.
Murray Tucker, Ph.D.