SPRING 2009
Vol. 39, No.4
 
FEATURES
Table of Contents
 
  Filmmakers Turn Focus on Haiti at Santa Barbara Film Festival By Emily Einolander ’09
  Marine Science Teaching Facility to be Built on UCSB Campus By Gail Gallesich, UCSB Public Affairs
  To the Point: Q and A with the Fantom of the Thunderdome
  Alumni Perspective: Playing at Predictors By Maya Rupert ’03
  UCSB Alumni Association 2009 Annual Meeting Notice
 
DEPARTMENTS
  Sports Roundup:
Women’s Basketball Wins Big West
  Research Roundup:
Program Maps Out Marine Protected Areas
  Around Storke Tower:
News & Notes From the Campus
  Alumni Authors:
Music, Evolution and Tragedy
  Milestones:
’40s to the Present
   
COVER
  David Potter ‘01, and Blair Fox, both winemakers at Fess Parker Winery, walk through Rodney’s Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Potter draws on his experiences with winemaking in California, Australia, and France when producing wine under his own label, Municipal Winemakers.

Cover photo by Rob Brown / Winescapes Photography
 
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Alumni Perspective
By Maya Rupert ’03
The First 100 and the Final Four

Alumni AwardsI’ve never understood the focus on a president’s first 100 days in office. To me, the perceived value has always been that these initial days can somehow serve as a predictor for the way the rest of the term will go. But too many things change between the first 100 days of a term and the last for them to offer an effective forecast of presidential success. Clinton encountered scandal and a loss of political capital; George W. Bush had to contend with September 11th; and just like that, the first 100 days of their terms were completely irrelevant to what we would witness for the remainder of them. But if the first 100 days of a presidency are not actually helpful in telling us anything about the term we will see, why should we pay such close attention to them?

Until this year, I’ve always answered that question simply: We shouldn’t. The focus on the first 100 days is an arbitrary yardstick that encourages new presidents to essentially continue campaigning for three more months as opposed to true governing. I silently begged Barack Obama to ignore the comparisons to FDR and view his presidency as a long-distance run instead of a sprint. And I begged everyone else, usually less silently, to stop focusing on his first 100 days. The first 100 days, I declared, can tell us nothing.

The NCAA championships made me realize I was wrong. I’ve never been a big college basketball fan. I watch the NCAA to see who will be successful in the NBA the following season. So I’ve never completed a bracket, never attended a game, never got swept away in the excitement of March Madness for its own sake.

However, after being underwhelmed each year by players like Greg Oden, Shannon Brown, and Javaris Crittenton, who, despite impressive college careers, have not yet made the expected impact in the NBA, I started questioning the wisdom of using the NCAA as a proxy for how well a player will compete in an entirely different league.
There are too many differences between what makes a star in the NCAA and what makes a star in the NBA for college play to be watched solely to determine future success. But people still watch and love the NCAA championships. And understanding why is what finally made me stop resenting the focus on the first 100 days.
The NCAA championships tell us about the type of player someone is, so it’s worth following for its own sake. And besides, it’s fun to watch.

Obama’s first 100 days can’t predict the future. The situations he will be confronted with will vary, but these first 100 days can shed light on the type of leader he will be in those situations. And so far, it looks good. His priorities show us that he is committed to repairing America’s global image. His measured responses to the economic crisis show us he places a premium on thoughtful deliberation. His frankness and honesty are refreshing. His commitment to bipartisanship is real.

And besides, in his first 100 days, Obama has ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay, ordered a responsible timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, and ordered an end to torture as an interrogation method. He renewed America’s commitment to science by lifting the ban on stem cell research. He also renewed much of America’s faith in the spirit of government and has brought young people into the process. And that change has been palpable. Even if Obama’s first 100 days tell us nothing about the term ahead, they’ve been awfully fun to watch.


Maya Rupert graduated UC Santa Barbara in 2003 with a double major in Political Science and Philosophy. She currently works as an associate with Sidley Austin in Los Angeles and writes a bi-weekly column for the L.A. Watts Times exploring issues of race, gender, and politics. She can be reached at mrupert@sidley.com.
To email Maya Rupert, click here.