Media forces Bush to celebrate 100 days

WASHINGTON: Despite the White House's initial efforts to discourage

the media from marking what it called an 'artificial anniversary,' the

White House acquiesced last week and engaged the media for coverage of

President Bush's 100-day anniversary in office.



The 100-day mark has been a staple of American presidencies since

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his famed 100-day plan. Ronald Reagan also had

a 100-day plan, focusing on the economy. Lyndon B. Johnson hailed it as

an effective way to capitalize on an all-too-short honeymoon.



The Bush administration originally tried to stress the first 180 days,

the time by which it hoped to have most of Bush's initiatives set in

motion. The media, however, refused to cooperate, with CNN and MSNBC

both branding news segments with logos reading 'The First 100 Days' soon

after the inauguration.



The president granted a slew of interviews to newspapers, wire services

and morning news shows last week, including The Washington Post, the

Associated Press, Good Morning America, The Early Show and Today.

Talking points were distributed to top Republican loyalists in

Washington, which included historical comparisons of the last five US

presidents' first 100 days and memorable moments from President Bush's

presidency thus far. (A portion of the latter appears in the

accompanying chart.)



The centerpiece of the campaign was a bipartisan luncheon held Sunday -

the actual 100th day - in the White House. President Bush sent

invitations to all 535 members of Congress, and made his push for

bipartisan cooperation a major theme of the week.



Congressional Democrats also got in on the act, appearing on talk shows

and granting interviews on the failures of Bush's first 100 days. In

response, Trent Duffy, press secretary for the Republican National

Committee, mobilized local party officials across the country to meet

with editorial boards and specialty media. Duffy called the Democrats'

actions 'a delightful contrast showing voters that they're still stuck

in partisan bickering while Bush is holding a bipartisan luncheon. I

think that's a powerful contrast.'



BUSH'S FIRST 100 DAYS - WHAT THE GOP IS SAYING



'President Bush is a strong leader who is doing what he said he would

do'



'The president's plain-spoken and straightforward leadership is helping

replace a culture of gridlock and cynicism with a constructive spirit of

bipartisan respect and results'



'The president's disciplined leadership and focus on results has led to

notable early accomplishments'



'The president has shifted the tax cut debate from a rancorous, partisan

debate over IF there will be tax relief to a bipartisan discussion of

HOW MUCH tax relief Americans will have'



'The president has made bipartisan education reform the cornerstone of

his Administration'



'The president put bipartisanship into action by meeting personally with

more members of the opposing party in the opening days of his

Administration than any other modern president'



'On foreign policy, the president has been decisive, measured and

realistic'



'The president said in his Inaugural Address, 'Civility is not a tactic

or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism.' The

president is keeping his word to bring a new way of thinking to

Washington'



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