Every modern president-elect uses his transition period to set the stage and cast the script for his first hundred days as President, hoping to carry the energy of a successful campaign into the Oval Office, and thence into the halls of Congress where legislation will begin to address the nation’s needs and build a presidential legacy.
The tradition began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who assumed the Presidency in 1933, believing the nation needed to change course dramatically and quickly. FDR put likeminded legislators in influential positions, and directed sweeping reforms and dramatic measures on behalf of a desperate people. For Roosevelt, setting a mood of hope and change included issuing an executive order to legalize a special brew of beer in the middle of Prohibition, just one of fifteen times he used executive power to push through major change in spite of longtime and powerful opposition. Since FDR’s time, presidents including John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have directed a hundred days of major policy initiatives and powerful public relations campaigns to create a tone and signal change. President-elect Barack Obama has already indicated he plans to reverse policy implemented in his predecessor’s administration and “restore hope to Americans,” but he faces challenges not known by most of his reforming predecessors—the 24 hour news cycle and the omnipresent clamor of the Internet.
Richard Murray often says that he became fascinated by politics during the Kennedy campaign in 1960, and since then has devoted his analytical aptitude and intellectual energy to the study of campaigns and the politicians who conduct them. Dr. Murray guided Houston Seminar audiences through the wild ride of the primaries last spring, and into the fascinating battles of the fall’s general election. Now he will turn that penetrating gaze on the continuation of a startlingly successful and historic campaign for change in America–to explore the lessons learned, the possibilities and the pitfalls present at the birth of a new presidency. Join us for three timely lectures, the first on the evening after the inauguration and the final on the one hundredth day of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Richard Murrayis the Bob Lanier Professor of Urban Public Policy and director of surveying for the Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston, where an endowed scholarship in his name was established in April 2008.
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