The president’s first 100 days have been, by and large, a disaster.
Reports of chaos, confusion, and infighting seem to leak out of the West Wing on a daily basis. The president is his own worst enemy, easily distracted, obsessed with minutiae, and uninterested in instilling much order in his administration. His staffers, many of them young, don’t really know the ropes, and it shows. The cluster of aides who arrived with the president from out of town irks official Washington, which, feeling shut out, views the executive-branch staff as bumbling provincial bumpkins and cheers on every failure. The media are more than happy to weave a narrative of chaos. Relations between press and president were strained during the campaign—stories bubbled up about the candidate’s sexual indiscretions, and aides became convinced their boss was subject to a double standard—and now reporters are out for blood. Even the president’s wife is subject to harsh attacks.
It’s spring 1993, and Bill Clinton’s term in office is off to a rocky start.
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The parallels between Clinton’s difficult transition and Donald Trump’s are, of course, imperfect, and the two men arrived in different circumstances with vastly different agendas. But the Clinton transition shows how an administration can stumble out of the gate, and how that a president who sets his mind to it can fix them. Perhaps more importantly, it shows how the first 100 days can set the stage for an administration’s later successes and its recurring weaknesses. Although he righted his listing ship, Clinton’s early mistakes haunted the remainder of his seven-plus years in office.