The first big benchmark of the new presidential administration is almost here: April 29 will be the 100th day of the Donald Trump presidency, and as is common in American political media, it'll be subject to all sorts of comparisons, analyses, and grades. How does Trump's first 100 days, in which he promised to do a lot, stack up to his predecessors'? And how will he mark the occasion? Well, if he's looking for inspiration, former president Barack Obama celebrated his 100th day in office with a press conference.
Doesn't sound very fun, does it? It wasn't some kind of an aimless, free-wheeling, or substance-free presser, either. Having been thrown into the furnace of a global economic crisis on inauguration day, Obama entered into a situation that demanded levelheadedness, a restrained attitude, and the willingness to speak coherently on matters of crucial national importance.
In the April 29, 2009 presser, Obama discussed the spread of the H1N1 flu (popularly known as the "swine flu"), the new budget resolution passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress, the economic recovery act, U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, and the hardships caused by the financial collapse that began one year prior. And while not everything he claimed in the presser was true ― his claim that he would close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility looks especially bad in retrospect, with it still being up and running a full eight years later ― he showed a sober-mindedness that seems to be in short supply these days.
Here's an excerpt of what he said, as transcribed by HuffPo — suffice to say it looks a lot different from transcripts of the new president's press conferences.
Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high, and government is still not as efficient as it needs to be. We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, as well as pandemic flu. And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security in the second hundred days, in the third hundred days, and all of the days after that.
It was the third prime-time press conference of Obama's presidency, and it was precisely the kind of wide-ranging and polished press conference you won't be seeing from President Trump this year.
That's because Trump, although faced with far fewer substantial challenges in his first 100 days than his predecessor had, has decided to go a very different route for his 100th day in office. He's already announced a rally in Pennsylvania on the night of April 29 — an event which he surely hopes will recreate some of that raucous fervor that helped propel him through the 2016 presidential race.
So if you're looking for a point of comparison, there it is — the 44th president held a press conference, and the 45th president will hold a pump-up rally. For what it's worth, the rally is taking place the same night as the White House Correspondents Dinner, which Trump had decided he'd rather not spend his 100th night attending.