Under New Management

Obama shows what's possible when grown-ups are in charge.

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After 100 days of the Obama presidency, we’ve been reminded of what it’s like to have a grown-up in the White House. There hasn’t been a president of Obama’s maturity since, well, Ronald Reagan. And his regime, like Reagan’s, could be a game changer.

Beneath his charm, Obama is all business. It’s impossible to imagine him cavorting with an intern or spending hours mountain biking when he should be absorbing briefing papers. He is focused like a laser on his job.

Unlike his immediate predecessor, he seems to be running the government instead of letting the government run him. And he seems so relaxed that it’s almost as frightening as it is reassuring. Given the problems he faces, how the heck can he smile so much?

That’s a welcome change in the atmosphere. Polls suggest most Americans believe that the country is moving in the right direction for the first time in many years, and that is the major achievement of Obama’s honeymoon period. That overall sense of correction probably means more than the specifics of the complicated plans for reviving the economy, solving the financial crisis, prosecuting the linked wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and untangling the increasingly thorny knot of Pakistan.

The extraordinary stockpile of goodwill that Obama has amassed during these early days of his administration will come in handy in the months and years ahead as we learn how well the programs he has put in place actually work. To extend the marital metaphor, we’re going to find out soon enough whether this marriage will last or end in a bitter divorce.