Obama's 100th Day Was Understated

by Seth Millstein
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As President Trump hits his 100th day in office, countless retrospectives have been penned on about what he has and hasn't accomplished during his young presidency. Aside from successfully appointing a Supreme Court justice and avoiding impeachment, Trump hasn't accomplished very much so far, which may be part of why he publicly dismissed the 100-day benchmark as a "ridiculous standard." But in actuality, presidents are often eager to downplay the significance of the first 100 days. For instance, President Obama spent his 100th day in office holding a press conference.

It wasn't a terribly notable press conference, either. Although Obama devoted a brief segment — just over 100 words, by my count — to recounting his accomplishments over the first 100 days, he spent most of his time addressing the topics of the day, which included the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, the impending auto bailout, and the question of weather waterboarding is torture. It wasn't exactly a victory lap.

Not that Obama didn't have any accomplishments under his belt about which he could have boasted. Within his first 100 days, Obama had signed at least three major pieces of legislation: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the economic stimulus package and the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which expanded health insurance to around 4 million children. By the time he hit day 100, Obama's average approval rating was a robust 63 percent.

Trump, by comparison, hasn't signed any major bills into law. His numerous attempts to restrict Muslim travel to the U.S. have been blocked by federal courts, and there's been no congressional movement at all on pledge to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The FBI, as well as both branches of Congress, are conducting investigations into his campaign's connections with the Russian government. Trump's national security adviser resigned less than a month into the job over his communications with Russia, and his average approval rating since taking office is 39 percent — lower than any other president in Gallup history, the polling firm said.

Having said all of that, the first 100 days isn't nearly as important of a benchmark as it's made out to be. The presidency is a four-year term, after all, and policies that are enacted later in a term count for just as much as those enacted during the first 100 days. Trump still has plenty of time to affect the change he's been unable to so far.