The tradition of assessing the first 100 days of a presidential administration dates back to Franklin D. Roosevelt who took office during the Great Depression – but a Virginia Tech political expert says it’s a flawed evaluation tool.
“It’s too short of a time period given the complex, difficult, and frequently contentious nature of the problems a new president confronts, especially with the need to staff a White House and make almost 4,000 appointments,” says Professor Karen Hult, chair of the university’s political science department. “In another sense, 100 days is too long given the frequent urgency of government response -- to, for example, North Korean missile launches, and sarin gas attacks in Syria -- high and typically unrealistic public expectations, and relentless and accelerating media attention.”
Hult says the following points are worth noting about the Trump administration, which reaches day 100 on April 29:
- The intensity and seemingly accelerating pace of executive and legislative activity, amplified by nonstop media coverage and heightened Trump’s use of Twitter.
- Slowness of the appointments process, on pace to be the slowest in 40 years.
- Evident abandonment of the lessons and processes adopted under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, with support from Congress, to help with more orderly transitions.
- Lack of care and the speed with which changes in the Affordable Care Act were introduced and then abandoned in Congress.
- President’s and many senior officials’ lack of understanding of and seemingly minimal preparation for assuming the office of the presidency and responsibilities for governing.
Karen Hult is chair of the Political Science department at Virginia Tech, with expertise in the U.S. Presidency and Organizational and Institutional Theory.
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