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Why Use 100 Days to Evaluate a New President?

BY Admin  March 25, 2009 at 3:25 PM EST

President Barack Obama

After Inauguration Day, a new president’s effectiveness is often gauged on his first 100 days – a widely-used measuring stick of a leader’s ability to jumpstart his administration.

The Online NewsHour asked two authors why the 100-day mark is used as a benchmark and to compare President Obama’s first months in office with those of another president who took office during tumultuous times: Franklin D. Roosevelt, who held office from 1933-1945.

Jonathan Alter, a Newsweek senior editor and columnist and author of “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope,” draws similarities between the two leaders: “Roosevelt and Obama believe that you must try a lot of different things … and [show] that you are at least trying to dent the crisis even if you can’t solve the problem entirely.”

Anthony Badger, Paul Mellon professor of American History and master of Clare College at Cambridge University and author of “FDR: The First Hundred Days” expands on the importance of a president’s first few months in office.”The president has his greatest power coming out of his electoral mandate on day one. And how you establish priorities in those first few weeks are very important for your entire presidency,” Badger said.