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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama’s First 100 Hours: A Clean Break From Bush»


At 4 pm ET today, it will mark exactly 100 hours since Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States. The first week on the job has been a very busy one for the new White House, as the Obama administration has worked quickly to repair the damage done under the last eight years of President Bush.

As President Obama indicated in his inauguration speech, he is seeking to chart a new way forward in domestic and foreign policy. Obama has made a clean break from the Bush legacy in his early going, undertaking a number of actions that the former President would never have considered. ThinkProgress has compiled a report documenting Obama’s record so far:


The Bush Record: In his final months, the Bush administration issued a series of “midnight regulations” that gutted safeguards protecting health, safety, the environment, and the public’s general welfare.

Obama’s Clean Break: Hours after his inauguration, Obama ordered a freeze on new regulations at all government agencies and departments and the withdrawal of all final or proposed regulations not yet published in the Federal Register.


The Bush Record: After using false intelligence to launch the war, Bush “surged” 30,000 troops to Iraq in 2007 and vetoed all attempts to end the war.

Obama’s Clean Break: Two days into his presidency, Obama called on U.S. military leaders to start to plan for a responsible withdrawal.


The Bush Record: In his first term, Bush — in contrast to President Bill Clinton — “generally avoided robust efforts” to resolve the Middle East conflict. Bush demeaned diplomacy with “terrorists and radicals,” likening it to the “appeasement” of Nazi Germany.

Obama’s Clean Break: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected the “rigid ideology” of Bush and pledged to exercise “smart power.” Stressing diplomacy, Obama and Clinton “appointed high-level emissaries to handle the Arab-Israeli issue and Pakistan and Afghanistan.”


The Bush Record: Torture began with the drafting of a secret legal memo holding that Bush could authorize interrogators to violate anti-torture laws. Bush’s senior-most officials approved torture that, in some cases, lead to death.

Obama’s Clean Break: Obama signed executive orders ending the CIA’s secret prisons and ending torture by requiring interrogations to abide by the Army Field Manual.


The Bush Record: Bush created the “legal black hole” that is Guantanamo Bay. He called the harsh treatment of detainees there “an absurd allegation” and was rebuked time and again by the Supreme Court.

Obama’s Clean Break: On his first day, Obama signed an executive order closing Gitmo in one year and suspended all military tribunals for six months.


The Bush Record: Two out of five FOIA requests filed in 2006 were not processed. The number of exemptions increased 83 percent since 1998.

Obama’s Clean Break: Obama issued new orders instructing all agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor” of FOIA requests. Obama is developing an “Open Government Directive” over the next four months.


The Bush Record: Many former Bush officials “joined the ranks of the companies they once regulated where they are highly compensated. In many instances, they have helped their new employers obtain lucrative government grants and contracts.”

Obama’s Clean Break: Obama laid out stringent lobbying limits that will ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff and will ban gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the administration.


The Bush Record: Bush reinstated the Global Gag Rule, which prohibited aid from going toward any organization that mentioned abortion as an option in family planning. Sixteen countries lost access to birth control.

Obama’s Clean Break: Obama overturned the Gag Rule on Jan. 23.