- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

It is upon us: The medias sacred quadrennial idiocy of grading a new presidency after its first 100 days. It is like judging a baseball game after the first out of the first inning. Only one presidency in our history could be rationally so judged FDRs famous first hundred days after taking office in the crisis of the Great Depression.
How can one judge the presidency when, in the first hundred days Congress almost invariably acts like a diesel cement truck starting up a steep hill: it churns and makes terrible sounds but it barely moves. Of President Bushs top five hundred appointments, the Senate has bothered to get around to passing on just 32. Ominously, in history, the original "100 days" referred to Napoleons escape from Elba, restoration as Emperor and abdication after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
But, traditions must be honored particularly when they are pointless. To break the monotony, I propose to give a report card on the first 100 days to the loyal opposition the Democrats. Admittedly loyal is not the first word that comes to mind when referring to them. But according to strict Washington parlance, an opposition is deemed loyal until it puts on its party payroll an Argentine colonel with express instructions to instigate a military coup d etat. Its true, the Democrats have hired Terry McAuliffe. But aside from maundering around Florida upsetting the old folks with his constant whining, his primary function is as the imperator of importuning, the prince of beggars, the sultan of slush. He performs a coo for cash, not a coup for power.
The first measure of an opposition is its ability to uplift from its ranks a vivid personality to speak for it, a person capable of making news on the mere strength of his or her personality. During the Kennedy presidency the Republicans found the redoubtable Sen. Everet Dirksen. During the Reagan years the Democrats were championed by the colorful, splendidly fat, white-haired Boston pol, Speaker Tip ONeill. During Bill Clintons presidency, of course, the Republicans came forth with my lovable old boss, the idea-a-minute enfant terrible Newt Gingrich. For two years he had Mr. Clinton struggling to make the evening news. Now there was an opposition leader.
The Democrats this season have come up with … Tom Daschle. Yes, he is a cunning back-room legislative mechanic, trained by the devious George Mitchell. Unfortunately, in public he suffers from clinical lassitude. He couldnt draw a crowd if he were passing out hundred dollar bills. He is so devitalized, if he goes on MSNBC, a nation switches channels to C-SPAN. Even that audience finds him excessively reposeful. When it comes to finding a leader in the first 100 days, the Democrats are saved from a failing grade only by Mr. Daschles curious ability to induce the Senate Democrats to yodel in unison. Give them a D minus.
The second measure of an opposition is its ability to stand its ground at least until the August break. But on Mr. Bushs two leading initiatives, education and tax cuts, they have provided future oppositions with a salutary lesson in self-destruction. They gave up the high ground of their principles (such as they were) faster than a college girl on ecstasy.
Doubtlessly, they will haggle themselves a few bureaucratic points before final passage, but they have already conceded a big tax cut and a shift to educational accountability along the policy lines proposed by the president. Once again, the Democrats are saved from a failing grade, this time by standing firm against oil drilling in a country running short of energy. Give them a D.
The last subject in the Democratic opposition report card is figuring out why they lost the last election. It being too painful to consider the possibility that they were outsmarted, their first instinct was to turn to that time-honored excuse: "We was robbed." But this explanation didnt explain why they have now lost the Senate and House in four consecutive elections.
Next they got into a nasty little internal argument over whether they should have embraced Bill Clinton more closely (God knows, he doesnt need any more embracing), or whether they should have moved further to the left in a country that has decisively rejected every self-proclaimed liberal presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson. This is known as the Barbra Streisand Strategy. But they have already corralled the jello-headed actress and depraved Hollywood executive vote and still came up short.
Apparently, the Democrats are still in denial over the possibility that the American public may not support a party that stands for high taxes, excessive spending, gun confiscation, a weak defense, racial quotas, a politically correct meddling in peoples lives and the full-throated support of a corrupt sociopath as their leader for eight years. On understanding why they lost, give them an F and put them on suspension. Their overall grade after a 100 days: F plus. But thats after dumbing down the curriculum.
E-mail: [email protected]

Tony Blankleys column for The Washington Times appears on Wednesdays.


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