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Now . . . for the Second Hundred Days : Let's not dwell too long on the first hundred days of any President. It's an artificial benchmark.

April 29, 1993

What we prefer to say for President Clinton is that it is only the first hundred days and that we remain hopeful about the second hundred.

Clinton is obviously intelligent and hard-working. And his record is replete with examples of learning from past mistakes. He seems terrific in two areas but weak in a third. He is great with an audience and at policy analysis. Less impressive is his ability to get things done. Congress has been underwhelmed by Clinton; he has been overwhelmed by it. The interaction, at its worst, has put the federal government on a negative roll. To be fair, Republican intransigence, by harming momentum for Clinton, has harmed it for the economic recovery: The hope of getting the deficit under control was a great tonic for financial markets. If dissipating that mood has helped the GOP, it hasn't helped the country.

Clinton is a minority President--elected by only 43% of the vote. But his Administration has been acting otherwise. One obvious suggestion is that he work harder with Congress and be wary of the utopians in his crowd who believe that public policy is arrived at purely on its merits. Another, less obvious suggestion for this stranger to the wily ways of Washington is that he strive for a more bipartisan style of governing. That means asking moderate, sensible Republicans for help, whether seeking their advice or even appointing them to positions of influence if not power.

Perhaps some kind of gradual, masterful movement toward a government of national unity might help. It's worth a thought at the highest levels of the White House.

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