Obama Power Play, Jumping the gun | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Obama Power Play, Jumping the gun

Jumping the gun

Dec 4th 2008
From The Economist print edition
Barack Obama’s first 100 days have already begun

"One of the most striking things about Barack Obama is that his 100 days seem to have already begun. Mr Obama repeatedly insists that America only has “one president at a time”. But since election day that “one president” seems to have been the junior senator from Illinois rather than the former governor of Texas.

Mr Obama has dominated the news with a relentless succession of carefully timed and often dramatic press conferences. He has embraced his former nemesis by making Hillary Clinton secretary of state. He has outraged the left by keeping Robert Gates at the Pentagon and making James Jones, a former NATO supreme commander who campaigned for John McCain, his national security adviser. He has reassured the markets by putting Tim Geithner in the Treasury and appointing Larry Summers as his White House economics guru. And he has made history by appointing Eric Holder as America’s first black attorney-general. The Justice Department, which once spied on Martin Luther King, will now be in the hands of a child of the civil-rights revolution.

This is partly deliberate stagecraft. Mr Obama and his advisers understand the importance of controlling the news. They have also long been obsessed by presenting a “presidential” image of Mr Obama, a man who was nothing more than a state senator four years ago."