We created The REAL 100 Days project as a bipartisan attempt to push ourselves beyond the boundaries of political parties as the new administration kicks off, and we'd love you to join our conversation. How do you think the media has covered Obama's first days in office? In what areas do you think Republicans and Democrats can work together? Know of a new blogger or civic group people should check out? Leave us a comment here or on our sites (www.maegancarberry.com and www.medializzy.com), call in to our radio shows (Wilshire & Washington and The Media Lizzy Show), or contribute to our dialogue on twitter by using the #100days hashtag.
Processing our new president's first week after the inaugural circus was precarious at best, but as the celebratory haze cleared an exasperated media tried its best to underscore the actions that will now shape our nation's agenda. Consuming the coverage, it seems as though the MSM will spend the coming weeks battling its own identity crisis as the unconventional administration's communications strategy unfolds. The same lack of social-media savvy or connection to grassroots-netroots politics that led them to call the primaries for Hillary Clinton in 2007 continues to prevent them from grasping the blueprint for "change." Thank god for Blago! We feared the absence of salacious news might cause the cable industry to collapse. Whoever would deconstruct Obama's sneaky weekly YouTube addresses on the Internets sent directly to the people?
There were a few bits of incendiary gossip to cling to. Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that he hopes Obama fails in office and Bill Bennett fired back. Some decided to develop conspiracy theories after Obama's second oath of office. Tyco got checked by the White House for turning the adorable Sasha and Malia into Beanie Babies. And what could be cattier than the Black Artists Association, who decried Michelle Obama's risky white dress by Jason Wu, a Taiwanese designer, as a betrayal? Apparently the new world order does leave room for the squabbles of yesterday for those who still wish to engage in cheap shots.
On the lighter side, President Obama demonstrated a sense of humor -- something oft missing inside the beltway -- when at his first meeting with House Republicans as President, he said: "Eric, I don't see anything crazy in here," in reference to House GOP Whip Eric Cantor's one-pager outlining Republican ideas for the stimulus bill.
Encouragingly, most people have moved on to actual work. Those pesky detainees in Guantanamo will have to find a secure new home in the US and play by the interrogation rules in the Army Field Manual. (Karl Rove doesn't buy it.) Obama continued to try to sell us on his plan to save the economy and gave us - surprise! - another web site to transparently track it. Democrats reversed W's global gag rule, reinstating family planning funds to groups that perform abortions.
These initial actions are proof that the work of many is easily undone in an election, and that for all the hopeful talk, partisanship is relevant in our approach to governance. Perhaps Rush was onto something when he said he doesn't want to acquiesce to warm-and-fuzzy talking points when he disagrees with Obama's agenda? But the next generation of grassroots organizers have not been waiting for orders from El-Rushbo.
Instead, up-and-coming Republicans are hard at work preparing to lead from a place of thoughtful opposition. The stimulus bill is being dissected and investigated not only on Recovery.gov, but by rightroots leaders at ReadTheStimulus.org. Suspicion of President Obama's natural, partisan alliance with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid is explored in some depth at TheSuperMajority.com, and efforts to "Rebuild the Party" are being led by tech guru Patrick Ruffini, Jon Henke, and Mindy Finn at their website of the same name. The race for a new Republican National Committee Chairman has made public much of the internal strife in the party, from a generational perspective, the Old Guard (read: Reagan guys) are led by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who garnered the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly and Saul Anuzis, who has repackaged himself as a tech-geek who understands the 'young gun' mentality, but who has long-ties to Grover Norquist.
This robust group of emerging Republicans are in some instances far from the beltway, but they are developing a long-term fundraising strategy and -- in a stroke of under the radar genius -- drawing guidance from the last generation of GOP leaders. Gen-Next, led by Founder Paul Makarechian, looks to the financier of George W. Bush's purchase of the Texas Rangers, former Ambassador to Spain George Argyros to help develop their long view. The Makarechian family was instrumental in Mitt Romney's presidential bid, but also maintain close ties to California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The conservative blogosphere and the moderate money machine will eventually reach a meeting of the minds, with Eric Cantor's fundraising trip to California this week with his deputy, Congressman Kevin McCarthy. The trip indicates he has his eyes on the future of the GOP, not mediating disputes on ideological purity.
With both sides hard at work under a new administration that promised middle ground, this seeming gridlock could easily be disheartening as the coming weeks unfold. But it doesn't have to be if we remind ourselves to participate in the new infrastructure this administration is providing to us. The Obama campaign and the newly emerging rightroots movement are grounded in the egalitarian principles of new media. If you refuse to accept the old paradigms presented by MSM and focus instead on issues, if you build alliances with people whose perspectives may sometimes differ in your own social networks, if you use WhiteHouse.gov, if you keep on top of Organizing for America, if you continue to Rebuild the Party and look for new leadership, then we will reverse the course of business as usual.