"Watch our smoke in the first 100 hours," say the congressional Democrats, setting a closer goal line than any I can remember.
President Franklin Roosevelt, in 100 days, accomplished sweeping reforms and launched the nation into recovery from a deep depression. President Kennedy said that all the campaign promises he had made could not be kept in 100 days, so he wanted 1,000 – 1,000 days that ended with his death.
President Clinton, not given to understatement, promised voters that if they elected him, they would have 100 days of the most successful congressional record of any president in the 20th century, according to historian Michael Beschloss. He did in fact set a pretty good record.
In this Congress, forget procedural matters and technical resolutions. Also, skip holidays such as Martin Luther King Day. And count only hours when the House is in legislative session and voting.
In its first week, the 110th Congress received a Democratic bill to implement some of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, including more money for the cities at highest risk of terrorist attack. Expect a swift series of more bills, including a minimum-wage increase (passed by the House already), "pay-as-you-go" budgeting rules, reforms in lobbying and ethics, the promotion of alternativeenergy sources, lowering costs for Medicare prescriptions, lowering interest rates for student loans, and funding for stem-cell research.
If all goes as planned, with the Demo- cratic leadership using its power to limit debate in the House, it is theoretically possible for the Democrats to achieve at least a significant part of their 100-hour plan – but don't bet on it.
• Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst at National Public Radio.