March 17, 2009 — The brown-bag talk by Robin Sproul, Washington bureau chief for ABC News, was titled “The New Administration and Change,” but it could have as easily been “The Next 50 days.”
“The biggest change [in Washington] is velocity, the speed of change that’s happening,” said Sproul, a Shorenstein Center fellow in fall 2007. She quickly ticked off just some of the issues the Obama administration was tackling, including Guantanamo, the war on drugs, stem cells, Afghanistan, housing, financial services, education (“an extraordinary push forward”), the automotive industry, the stimulus package, and a new budget. Even health-care reform, a longstanding issue that eluded a major effort by the Clinton administration, could be accomplished by year’s end, with a bill “potentially ready by summer,” she said with amazement.
“Seven bills signed in the first 50 days,” Sproul said, then put it in context: “In the first 50 days of the Bush administration there was one bill signing,” a proclamation congratulating Ronald Reagan on his 90th birthday.
This has raised questions of “speed versus focus,” but the feeling within the administration is that “this is a moment of opportunity,” Sproul said. She felt that in Obama’s second 50 days he would start to draw on his network of supporters, the “outside army.” This included everyone from former campaign field workers up to higher-level individuals who’ve chose to support the administration from outside.
This article was written by Leighton Walter Kille and the photos taken by Janell Sims, both of the Shorenstein Center.