Academics are quick to point out that Franklin Roosevelt was not the one who coined the term 100 days. Instead that was used for years to address Napoleon’s escape from Elba and the period that led to his final defeat at Waterloo.
Even when Roosevelt first talked about the 100-day period he was referring to the special congressional term that he called to pass some urgent bills, not his own administration.
What Roosevelt faced was a nation just short of collapse amid the Great Depression. Luis Guillermo Solís does not have a problem anywhere near that magnitude in the first 100 days of his presidency.
Yet he is committed to summarize his actions. At first he wanted to address the legislature. He sent a letter to lawmakers asking for 70 minutes before the assembly body Thursday. He also wanted nearly two hours for responses from the lawmakers and 30 minutes for a closing statement.
For a number of reasons, lawmakers turned him down. Some said they felt Solís had not accomplished enough in his first hundred days to warrant that much time.
Roosevelt had it better. He had a controlling majority in each of the two house of Congress. Yet it still took him 100 days to get through bills he wanted. One of them cut federal government spending 31 percent, according to a 2007 book by Jonathan Alter: “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days And the Triumph of Hope.”
Solís has been having a tough time making any cuts, and changes in the sales taxes and pensions have generated anger among those affected.
Still, he plans to give his report to the people in a three-hour presentation Aug. 28 at the Teatro Melico Salazar downtown.
Although the term 100 days has become synonymous with the first part of a presidential term everywhere, usually it is not the president involved who does the evaluation. That is the job of political pundits, columnists and other politicians.
Solís is planning a show of force in which he plans to address the state of the nation when he took office. The target is Partido Liberación Nacional and former president Laura Chinchilla Miranda.
Of course, pundits here will use the president’s speech as a base for their own criticisms.
Roosevelt was successful because he immediately established a new, infectious atmosphere of optimism, according to White House reporter Ken Walsh who wrote about the former U.S. president in U.S. News Weekly. Despite his own charm, Solís probably cannot claim to have done that.