About this Blog
About The Author
Email Me

RealClearPolitics HorseRaceBlog

By Jay Cost

« Obama Signs Omnibus, Blasts AIG | HorseRaceBlog Home Page | Our Partisan President »

Biden's Absurd Presentism

Joe Biden last night:

"This president has inherited the most difficult first 100 days of any president, I would argue, including Franklin Roosevelt.

"Let me explain what I mean by that. It was clear the problem Roosevelt inherited. This is a more complicated economic [problem]. We've never, ever been here before - here or in the world. Never, ever been here before."

Hardest first 100 days ever? I disagree on FDR, but there is certainly no contest between Obama and Honest Abe.

Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. By that point - South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had seceded from the Union. Additionally, Jefferson Davis had already been named President of the Confederacy. About a month after Lincoln was inaugurated, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, ultimately prompting Virginia to secede. By early June (still within Lincoln's first 100 days) - Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee had also seceded.

Unlike Obama, President Lincoln had little help during the much longer transition (not shortened until after the 20th Amendment was ratified in 1933). From Morison, Commager, and Leuchtenburg:

During the awkward four months' interval between Lincoln's election in November 1860 and his inauguration on 4 March, a period in which Southern states seceded and the Confederacy was formed, the timid Buchanan was President. His cabinet included three secessionists, and only one strong nationalist, Jeremiah Black, after Cass resigned in disgust (12 December). Buchanan had the same power to defend property and collect federal taxes within states that obstructed federal law as President Jackson possessed in 1832, but the President did nothing. [Emphasis mine]

Additionally, there was a conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln in Baltimore prior to his Inauguration. Unlike President Obama, who was able to enjoy great pomp and circumstance at the Lincoln Memorial prior to his Inauguration, the 16th President had to sneak into DC, "like a thief in the night" (his words), to the embarrassment of himself and his supporters - and to the joy of his political opponents.*

That is the "most difficult first 100 days of any president, including Roosevelt."

* - FDR came closer to being assassinated. After the election but prior to the Inauguration, he was traveling with Chicago Mayor Antoin Cermak, who took a bullet and died a few weeks later. This is one of many reasons I would place Obama's 100 days behind FDR's. I would also place Obama far behind Truman, who was left badly unprepared by FDR (he didn't even know about the Manhattan Project). Though the following occurred just outside his first 100 Days, Truman had to stare down Joseph Stalin at Potsdam and make a final decision to drop the Bomb, all before Labor Day (he was sworn in on April 12).

-Jay Cost