The most important thing we now know about Barack Obama, after nearly 100 days in office, is that he means to confront that way of life directly and profoundly, to exchange sand for rock if he can. Whether you agree with him or not — whether you think he is too ambitious or just plain wrong — his is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time.
Also take a look at this wonderful photo essay
by Callie Shell documenting the man’s historic first three months in office.
His pledge to take on both the immediate (the financial crisis and economic recession) and the apparently intractable (healthcare, Cuba, immigration, the environment) even as he ramps down one war, escalates another and raises taxes on the rich, is epoch-defining in its ambition.
So far it seems to be popular. When Obama took the presidential oath, 78% thought the country was heading in the wrong direction; today that is down to 48%. His approval ratings are around 65% – only Reagan was in better shape at this stage (and even that was within the margin of error).
But this popularity is precarious. People like Obama far more than they like his policies. And even though they think the country is moving in the right direction, polls show this to be one of those rare periods where those same people remain unsatisfied with their lives. In other words, people are suffering and are optimistic at the same time. And the reason for their optimism is Obama himself. In a reprise of the spirit that distinguished his primary and presidential campaign, people have embraced who he is as a portent of what he might do.