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For President Obama to do better than his predecessor internationally was always going to be easy. For George W Bush was disliked by huge numbers of the world's people, and an even larger proportion of their leaders; indeed, the degree of loathing exceeded that visited on almost any other American president.
But Obama has not just basked in the widespread relief at his arrival in the White House; he has also acted well. He said on his first day in office that he would close the Guantánamo prison camp, and is working on it; within a few more days he had struck the note the world wanted to hear on Iraq, on torture and on climate change.
His meetings in Europe and Turkey for a series of summits on 2-7 April 2009, and in Trinidad & Tobago for the Summit of the Americas on 17-19 April, were an almost unqualified success. People everywhere liked and trusted him. (The one partial exception was his urging the European Union to accept Turkey as a member: the reaction in Washington if France's Nicolas Sarkozy were to urge the United States to accept Mexico as the fifty-first state!)
Only gradually has it emerged that while Obama may understand the world's anger at the Bush administration's hubris and rudeness, his own foreign policy in many ways is set to continue the established themes of American policy. He might be ready to draw down US forces in Iraq; but only to send more to Afghanistan. He might have appointed excellent regional special envoys - Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, Dennis Ross; but with no expectation of dramatic progress in their areas of responsibility.
Obama's public demeanour may be hugely welcomed across the world. But the US under his leadership will still pursue many of America's great-power goals. The fist might open into a handshake, but his remains a project for a new - if less aggressive - American century.
In the domestic arena
At home, as the hundred days end on 29 April 2009, President Obama's record is even more ambiguous. No one doubts his determination to drag the American economy out of the quagmire. Many doubt whether his administration (studded as it is on the financial side with those most associated with the policies that caused the trouble in the first place) knows how to do the job.
Equally, no one doubts the sincerity of his reform agenda. But many doubt whether, given the slowdown of the economy and the ballooning of the budget deficit, he will be able to advance his social and environmental goals: introducing universal healthcare insurance, investing on a significant scale in public education, and reducing America's dependence on imported energy.
Only a fool, said JP Morgan, would "go a bear" on the United States. But a very large number of fools did "go a bull" on a scale that has come close to ruining the world's strongest single economy (and thus, in a globalised economy, to ruining everyone else's).
Indeed, what President Obama's first hundred days illustrate is the limited ability of the American presidency to respond to the country's real needs.