THE BLOG
05/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Giving Change a Grade - April Edition

An ongoing monthly feature on Scoop44 grading change in the Obama Administration -- also accessible here. This month gives Obama an averaged 6.9 ... or 7 out of 10 in our conversation's with leading writers, politicians, and newsmakers.

Bob Kerrey, fmr. U.S. Senator (NE-D): 10
"On style, substance and attitude, Obama registers a 10 on my change meter."

Gail Collins, columnist for The New York Times: 8.5 or 9
"I didn't actually anticipate a super amount of change and there's more in some ways than I expected. So I'd go for 8.5 or 9."

Frank Donatelli, senior GOP strategist: 8
"More continuity in foreign policy, Lots of change in domestic policy, but the wrong kind of change. Obama's radical budget and spending policies have terrified the financial markets. The Dow is down 25% since he took office. While problems undeniably predated his presidency, his policies and rhetoric have only made things worse."

Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report: 8
"If we've discovered anything in the last six weeks it is that 'change' is a very subjective term. As it turns out, change is in the eye of the beholder. We've seen enormous change in policy, both through the undoing of some of the Bush Administration's initiatives and through President Obama's proposals. What we haven't seen is a change in behavior...the coordinated strategy to make Rush Limbaugh the face of the Republican Party and congressional Democrats refusal to remove earmarks...from the omnibus are pretty telling signs that it's business as usual."

Matt Bai, writer for The New York Times Magazine: 6 (averaged)
"Let's say we define change, as I do, in terms of reforming the culture of Washington. I guess I'd give him an 8 on process. I mean, this is the first president in my lifetime to apologize for a mistake without a year's worth of subpoenas leading up to it. I think he's talked with Republicans in Congress in a way that's more civil and more personal than we've seen in quite some time. That said, I'd give him more like 4 on the policy end. The stimulus and the budget have a decidedly old Democratic feel to them. There's not much there that suggests a different governing philosophy even in the way that Clintonism challenged the status quo of its party."

Lincoln Chafee, fmr. U.S. Senator (R-RI): 6
"I think that it is still early to make strong judgments on the Obama administration especially considering the challenges they inherited. As one who considers the Iraq war one of the worst blunders in American history, I am perplexed that so many who supported the war have been hired into an administration that did promise change...yet the new administration is a who's who of people wrong on the war. So with this fact, coupled with the mirage of post partisanship, I'd say a 6."

David Boaz, president of the Cato Institute: 5 (averaged)
"2 on Iraq/Afghanistan, where he has been most disappointing; 5 or incomplete on executive power/civil liberties, where some signs have been promising but completion remains uncertain; on economics and the size and scope of government, 8 -- or minus 8, if you're going to count 'change' as a good thing. His speech and budget outline a breathtaking increase in the size, scope, cost, and power of government, much more than he promised during the campaign, and a shift that wouldn't be possible without the economic crisis. The 'shock doctrine' in action -- he wants to ratchet up the size of government while people are in shock, before opposition can build."

Michael Barone, senior writer for U.S. News & World Report: 4
"To what extent has it [change] been fulfilled? I'd say about a 4 on foreign policy and an incomplete on domestic policy. We don't know whether the Obama budget, cap-and-trade, national health insurance are going to pass. And we still haven't been doing much to clean the Augean stables of the banks."