The benchmarks in which we in America seek to establish “acceptance” in the labor force generally come without much fanfare. New hires commonly have 90-day, sometimes six-month, probation periods that affirm their competency and synergetic fit in the workplace. Now, we’ve seen probation periods before. We generally see them come and go. But never has there been such a pronounced announcement of a new President’s first 100 days as that of President Barack Obama. The funny thing about America is that anything that we know is racial, if we were to state it, would be met with adamant denial. But this first 100-day thing is one of those things. It started at day two. Never has 100 days meant so much.
But I swear, I ain’t never seen a President on probation before — but Obama definitely was. It was like some people (like maybe some disillusioned party that controls most of the airwaves) expected to wake up and find the country gone, or something. For previous presidents, it was like a simple benchmark. For President Obama, it’s an evaluation—a report card, a formal grade on not just how he’s done but if he’s won (over the American public). Like the first time he won was a fluke or something. Surely, after 100 days on the job—once the American people found out he was all talk—Obama-mania would certainly be over, we could let Joe Biden take over and government could get back to duping the public.
There was almost this expectation that President Obama wouldn’t be up to the task of leading the nation and the world. He’s exceeded their expectations, if fairly judged. The 100 days was an artificial benchmark to wage early criticism.
Okay, so let’s just pretend that he wasn’t up to task. It’s only 100 days, in a depressed economy. Most of America spend their first 90 days learning their new positions. What’s the big deal? The last President served eight years on training wheels having stole an election, botched two wars, a natural disaster, and buried the economy. He never “got it” and still didn’t get as much “is he in over his head” critique as Barack has gotten. The Obama administration is proven much more apt from the start. Certainly much more transparent. Obama couldn’t have been as clandestine as Bush because then that wouldn’t be “change.” And they’d be afraid he was giving the country away (as some of them have said). It doesn’t matter how high a brotha’s position is, he still has someone looking over his shoulder on a right regular basis.
President Obama did make a lot of promises (242 by Tavis Smiley’s count). He had to. People were looking for a reason not to vote for him. Hope and change wasn’t enough. But did they really expect him to get it done in 100 days? I mean, really? President Obama probably hasn’t been in every room in the White House in 100 days. He’s probably still trying to learn the names of every one of the 600 people who work at the White House. Doesn’t matter. Probation is probation. You either know or you don’t.
President Obama has proven he knows his job. He’s passed an economic stimulus package, created a budget, closed Guantanamo Bay, redeployed troops to Afghanistan, announced a withdraw time table for Iraq, got the dog—let’s not forget about the dog, as the press acted like the dog was for them and then they criticized for not adopting one. When the brotha turned left, they said he should have turned right. When the brotha tried to be positive and upbeat, they said he smiled too much during these tough economic times—he should be more somber. When he want to meet world leaders, he shouldn’t meet with this one or shake that one’s hand. Hell, they all wanted to meet him. They still can’t believe it.
The media was worried about the Obamas touching the Queen. The Queen wanted to touch them to see if this wasn’t a dream. They know American and this new episode of American history is still a little shocking to everybody. Watching CNN or MSNBC (I confess, I don’t watch Fox) everyday, you just shake your head at how President Obama calmly deals with all that coming at him. Yet, each news service has that little “First 100 Days” in the corner of their screen, a subliminal message that infers Obama’s “probation period,” and a persistent reminder that “we watching you, Negro,” so don’t make any friends with rogue leaders, suspected terrorists, communists, civil rights activists, labor leaders, same sex marriage proponents, socialists, environmentalists and of course, integrationists.
The suggestion is that he just be a caretakers for the office, get the economy on track, and get the nation over this change thing. Plus make good on all those promises you made, without spending any money… in the first 100 days. Then, maybe President Obama, those who want you to fail let you off probation. What’s next, the first 200 days? 300 days? 400 days?
Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is an author, scholar and the co-founder, Managing Director and host of the Urban Issues Forum. Dr. Samad has authored several books including “Fifty Years After Brown: The State of Black Equality in America” and “Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom”. His national column can be read here at the LA Progressive as well as other newspapers and cyber-sites nationwide. For more information about Dr. Samad, go to www.AnthonySamad.com.