Daniel Singal, professor of history, looks at President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office as a true historian – he compares his performance to those of other Presidents and uses historical data to make some predictions about the future. In a Finger Lakes Times article today, he shares some of his insights on this Presidency with reporter Craig Fox.
“There’s a lot more attempted and accomplished in the first three months of the Obama administration than in most others,” Singal said. The article notes he believes this President’s agenda is the most ambitious since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The article goes on to note some of the tasks Obama has undertaken in his first days, then includes Singal’s prediction that “the president will begin working on health care and education reform in his first year in office and then concentrate on such things as an alternative energy program during the next year.”
Singal also explains that this was a “critical election” year, part of a 36-year cycle.
“With his overwhelming popularity and a clear majority on Capitol Hill, Obama has ‘enormous power’ to get his agenda through, and it showed when he got his budget passed almost as he had proposed it and with little change,” Singal said.
A member of the faculty since 1980, Singal earned his B. A. from Harvard magna cum laude and his M.A. and Ph.D., (with distinction) from Columbia. He is the author of “William Faulkner: The Making of a Modernist” (Chapel Hill), and “The War Within: From Victorian to Modernist Thought in the South, 1919-1945” (Chapel Hill).
The complete article from the Finger Lakes Times follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Jury’s still out on whether ambitious agenda will succeed
Craig Fox • April 29, 2009
It’s been 100 days since President Barack Obama stepped out of a limousine on Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day. And, in those 100 days, Obama has had plenty to deal with. An economic crisis, Iraq and Afghanistan … even Somali pirates.
Even so, Hobart and William Smith Colleges history professor Daniel Singal believes the Obama agenda is the most ambitious since Franklin D. Roosevelt put together his plan to get the nation out of the Great Depression in the late 1930s.
“There’s a lot more attempted and accomplished in the first three months of the Obama administration than in most others,” Singal said.
Obama has focused on trying to solve the country’s economic crisis – including passage of a $787 billion economic stimulus package – and has started working on a number of social issues that the country has tried to cope with during the past quarter century, Singal said, adding that he predicts the president will begin working on health care and education reform in his first year in office and then concentrate on such things as an alternative energy program during the next year.
John Piczak, a political science professor at Keuka College, agreed, noting that while it’s been 100 days Obama hasn’t had enough time to get his Legislative agenda through yet. “The jury is still out on that,” Piczak said, noting that Obama knows how to work with political allies to get his goals accomplished.
“He’s not shying away from a full agenda plate.” Obama has also made government more transparent by releasing documents about questionable interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration and showed the world that foreign policy has changed under the Obama administration.
Singal believes that 2008 was what he calls “a critical election,” when the national electorate makes a change from one party or political climate to another. It usually happens in 36- year cycles, Singal said, but the last one occurred in the 1980s when the Republican Party became the dominant party.
With his overwhelming popularity and a clear majority on Capital Hill, Obama has “enormous power” to get his agenda through, and it showed when he got his budget passed almost as he had proposed it and with little change, Singal said.
He’ll next concentrate on working on health care reform and putting together an education plan that deals with making sure everyone has access to college and with universal pre-kindergarten programs, Singal predicted.
With Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter changing to the Democratic Party on Tuesday, things might even get easier, especially if Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken eventually wins his marathon in Minnesota, Singal said. If that happens, Democrats will have a filibusterproof Senate.
“I think Democrats will follow Obama. They like him,” Singal said.