“You better damn well do the tough stuff up front, because if you think you can delay the tough decisions and tiptoe past the graveyard, you’re in for a lot of trouble. Make the decisions that involve pain and sacrifice up front.”
–Leon E. Panetta, the former White House chief of staff who has been advising Barack Obama’s transition team, in The New York Times today. The Times piece opens by saying that no president since before Obama was born has faced the kind of challenges awaiting his arrival in Washington.
Panetta’s advice to “do the tough stuff first” aligns with traditional wisdom about the importance of a President’s first 100 days in office. This period is pivotal because it provides the best opportunity to push legislation through Congress, set precedents, prove leadership ability, and restore faith in government. The idea of the first 100 days actually was established by President Franklin Roosevelt, whose daunting circumstances upon election, historians suggest, parallel Obama’s. –Jessica Shambora