IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME…. Most of the major news outlets are trying to come up with interesting ways to report on President Obama’s first 100 days in office, some more creative than others. The Murdoch-owned New York Post decided to go with “100 Days, 100 Mistakes: Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others on Obama’s short, error-prone time in office.”

Far-right blogs seem thrilled. And why not? After all, if the New York Post asked for contributions from insightful luminaries like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Joe Scarborough, it’s bound to be a shrewd and thought-provoking look at the last three months, right? The paper’s conservative ownership and editors no doubt thought creating such a list would be a good idea.

So, I dug in, reading all 100 “mistakes.” Obama’s start hasn’t been perfect, by any means, but if these “mistakes” are the best Palin, Beck, Scarborough, and the New York Post‘s editors can come up with, the White House has reason to be pleased.

For example, did you know the president made a “mistake” by not taking the recent “Tea Parties” seriously? Obama also made a “mistake” when a Bush administration official wrote a report warning of potentially-violent American radicals. When one poll showed public opposition to an administration policy, while another showed public support for the same policy, that counts as a presidential “mistake.”

When the Dow fell below 7,000, it was a “mistake” for Obama. When the president pre-empted an episode of “American Idol,” that’s a “mistake,” too. When Joe Biden forgot the url for, that’s also an Obama “mistake.” If the president even thinks about policies the New York Post disapproves of, they all count as “mistakes.”


In some instances, the New York Post just makes stuff up, relying on rumors and bogus conservative myths. There were “reports” the Vatican disapproved of the administration’s proposed ambassadors — the reports were wrong — so that’s an Obama “mistake.” The Post falsely said Obama’s inauguration cost “triple” Bush’s, and that’s Obama’s “mistake,” too.

Ironically, the Post ends up making the opposite of the intended point. If Obama’s brief tenure in the Oval office has been “error-prone,” shouldn’t the conservative paper and its conservative contributors come up with actual mistakes, instead of a bunch of made-up stuff?

Don’t get me wrong, Obama has made real errors, some more serious than others. In some key civil liberties areas, the administration has been misguided. In reaching out to congressional Republicans on the economic recovery package, the president made some tactical mistakes that led to a weaker bill. Nominating Judd Gregg for the cabinet was a genuine mistake. And whatever genius thought it was a good idea to give British Prime Minister Gordon Brown some DVDs — discs that don’t even work in England — was clearly not thinking.

But the fact that the very silly New York Post couldn’t come up with a real list with credible errors actually makes me feel better about Obama’s first few months, not worse.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.