On Obama’s First 100 days, Swine flu and Arlen Spector

I’ve always thought the first 100 days was an odd milestone. Like covering anniversaries of big events.  It’s a good hook for a slow news day. Unfortunately, the Obama’s  first 100 days seems less important than the possible incubation period since the president’s trip to Mexico.

The president has been able to avoid any race issues so far. The economy has trumped all. But we may begin to see more talk of race because of the swine flu epidemic and how it appears to have come from Mexico.  When  some right wing talk hosts suggest quarantining the barrios and border towns, we will have a major problem.

And it will be up to the president to do what he has shown he can do very well these first 100 days: Bring people together to work toward common goals as Americans.

It’s been Obama’s  gift during these troubled times.  And perhaps 100 days is a good time for some people to end the “free look period” and go with the program.

It’s one way to look at the Arlen Spector defection to the Democrats.  I imagine there’s more moderate Republicans waking up today who are realizing that the Obama administration is OK.  It’s OK for a guy with that middle name, who is a person of color, who is the ideal centrist to inspire the country and lead us at this time.

Sometimes it just takes 100 days for things to sink in.

Realistically, 100 days is barely enough time to get things running.  What kind of accomplishments do you measure in 100 days?  That you know the shortcut routes inside the White House? Given the issues he’s faced,  Obama has done a remarkable job cleaning up after the Bush administration.

On the hard core issues of race, the challenges remain ahead. An upcoming Supreme Court decision on the  New Haven Fire Department affirmative action case will be a test. Another case about quotas and fairness.

But for the most part, Obama has dealt with race the way he did in the campaign. He doesn’t make it a front-burner issue until it’s a crisis. But the issue is always there when you are staring at the first black president of America.

I was in Washington for Day One.  Standing in the 15 degree cold with a 1 or 2 million of my closest friends.  It was an inspiring  and momentous day, and Obama continues to to be up to the task at hand.  More than the president before him, with every day in office,  Obama brings hope that all people, including  people of color,  can and will do well.