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Barack Obama: A rocky start?
What troubled nominees and a stimulus fight say about the Obama presidency
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arack Obama ruined his own honeymoon, said Stephen F. Hayward in The Wall Street Journal. Unlike Ronald Reagan, who knew a landslide didn't give him license to do whatever he wanted, Obama followed the "imperious FDR model" and thundered "I won!" as he pushed through his economic policies. He doesn't "grasp the essentials of presidential leadership."

"Aside from the stimulus muddle," said Camille Paglia in Salon, President Obama is off to a good start. "True, I was disappointed with the infestation of the new appointments list by Clinton retreads and slippery tax-dodgers." But Obama has exuded confidence in meetings with the military's top brass, and his decision to close the Guantanamo detention center sent the world the right signal.

You must be kidding, said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. "The first however-many days of Barack Obama's presidency have been a study in amateurism." His "political greenness" was especially apparent when he trotted out a parade of "lax taxpayers" for prominent positions, then looked weak by apologizing for his staff's failure to properly vet the nominees.

True, it was jarring to hear Obama admit he "screwed up," said Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune. But that's mainly because George W. Bush never admitted his mistakes, no matter how obvious they were. "Every new president receives on-the-job training. If Obama wants our forgiveness for his early stumbles," he can show what he's learned by pushing for a simpler tax code everyone can understand.

Obama doesn't need anyone's forgiveness, said Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. Sure, he had "a lousy week." But at this point in his presidency, Bill Clinton was two months away from failing to pass his own tiny economic stimulus measure, and George W. Bush was "being lauded for bipartisan outreach." One week this early means nothing.

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