A Tale of Two Presidents: Trump, Obama and the First 100 Days

A Tale of Two Presidents: Trump, Obama and the First 100 Days


By Cecilia Smith

At the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, then-President Obama was facing off with the man that had publicly questioned his American nationality by calling his birth certificate a fraud. That man was Donald Trump.

Obama famously joked at the dinner, “Donald Trump is here tonight! Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.” The room erupted in laughter as he added, “And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

It was a humbling moment for the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star who, despite growing up wealthy, had spent most of his life vying for the acceptance of New York’s elite. If Obama touched a nerve that evening, Trump would never admit it, later claiming, “There are many reasons I’m running, but that’s not one of them.” Whether revenge or a bruised ego prompted his political run or not, in the end, Trump would enjoy the final election laugh.

Few are laughing now.

As the White House has shifted from Obama’s famously cool demeanor to the combative governing style Trump frequently displays on Twitter, their differences extend far beyond temperament. Ideologically, the two could not be further apart. Obama, a self-confessed liberal, worked within the system to slowly expand and enforce civil rights. Obama was a meticulous guardian of the American post-World War II governing order and neo-liberal free trade policies. Trump, on the other hand, has spent his time being a right-wing insurgent. His attempts have been to modify the Western international order, pouting about how the United States has been cheated by everyone, except Russia, on international trade policies and military expenditures. While at the same time, Trump has been fighting to slow the tide of white demographic decline with harsh immigration policies.

Since Franklin D. Roosevelt, all modern presidents have been judged by the strides made during their first 100 days in office. For Obama, the first 40 of those days included the passage of a law that expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, another that lifted the Bush-era ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and an act that promised equal pay for women. Also on his agenda was the stimulus package, narrowly saving the nation from full financial collapse. At the end of his first 100 days, nearly 65 percent of Americans approved of the job Obama was doing.