Nets Celebrate Obama's 'Whirlwind' and 'Whirling Dervish of Activity' in First 50 Days

NBC and ABC on Tuesday night marked President Barack Obama's first 50 days -- not by pointing out all his unfilled executive positions, failed nominations or the long wait for the stimulus spending in the “stimulus” bill -- but by heralding his “whirlwind” of action and “whirling dervish of activity,” though both noted criticism that the administration is trying to do too much. “The President's first seven weeks have been a whirlwind with often dramatic movement in all directions, on all fronts. The economy, health care, two wars and today education reform,” NBC anchor Brian Williams breathlessly announced.  

Noting the “accusation that he's taken on too much all at once,” NBC's Savannah Guthrie relayed how Obama “took some time to answer his critics.” Viewers then heard Obama invoking Abraham Lincoln: “You may forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad and passed the Homestead Act and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of civil war.”

On ABC, Jake Tapper contended “you can disagree with what President Obama has done, but you cannot accuse him of dragging his feet. His first 50 days have been marked by presidential action on nearly every issue under the sun. Of course, for his critics, that's precisely the problem.” Tapper soon asserted: “Seven weeks ago, just minutes after taking the oath of office, President Obama formally nominated his cabinet. He's been a whirling dervish of activity ever since.”

Later in Tapper's story, historian Richard Norton Smith proposed: “It's an ambitious agenda, and I tell you, if he succeeds, even on half of this, that's the way you get into history, as both an important as well as a successful President.”

Tapper concluded by pointing out how “a leading Democratic economist, Mark Zandi, said that the administration's stimulus package would create one million fewer jobs than the White House has predicted.”

First half of the story on the Tuesday, March 10 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Today marked President Obama's 50th day in office, halfway through his first 100 days. The President's first seven weeks have been a whirlwind with often dramatic movement in all directions, on all fronts. The economy, health care, two wars and today education reform -- which raises the question, talked about on cable all day long: Is it all too much for any one administration? Savannah Guthrie is with us from the White House tonight. Hey, Savannah. Good evening.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good evening, Brian. The President moved ahead today with his big agenda item of the day, education reform. But after getting that accusation that he's taken on too much all at once, he took some time to answer his critics. The President came to talk education, but first gave a history lesson to those who say his ambitious agenda is distracting him from fixing the economy.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. You may forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad and passed the Homestead Act and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of civil war.

GUTHRIE: Still, the White House is making a concerted effort to put its economic team out in public to show they're fully engaged. Budget director Peter Orszag on Capitol Hill today grilled on health care in the morning...
Start of the piece on ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: Creating jobs and fixing the economy, of course, are cornerstones of President Obama's administration. Hardly a day has gone by during his first 50 days in office that he hasn't spoken about those issues. But his agenda has been chock full of other initiatives, as well. And that's the rub. Jake tapper is at the White House again this evening. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER: Good evening, Charlie. Well you can disagree with what President Obama has done, but you cannot accuse him of dragging his feet. His first 50 days have been marked by presidential action on nearly every issue under the sun. Of course, for his critics, that's precisely the problem. This morning, President Obama announced goals for improving public education.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We've accepted failure for far too long. Enough's enough.

TAPPER: The President called for higher standards for schools and students, pay for performance for teachers, more charter schools, and longer school years. Seven weeks ago, just minutes after taking the oath of office, President Obama formally nominated his cabinet. He's been a whirling dervish of activity ever since....
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center