LIANE HANSEN, host:
Barack Obama made 515 promises during his presidential campaign. According to the Web site PolitiFact.com, its reporters and researchers have been keeping track of every one. The Obama administration turns six months tomorrow.
So, Bill Adair, the editor of PoltiFact.com and the Washington bureau chief of the St. Petersburg Times, has returned to our studio to tell us how the president is doing so far. It's nice to see you again, Bill.
Mr. BILL ADAIR (Washington Bureau Chief, St. Petersburg Times; Editor, PolitiFact.com): Thanks for having me.
HANSEN: According to your Web site, President Obama has yet to take action on 376 of his 515 promises. Is that a reasonable rate of action, I mean, just six months into the administration or do you think he needs to step up the pace a bit?
Mr. ADAIR: Well, I think it's reasonable, given that not all promises created equal. You know, one of our promises is send two brigades to Afghanistan, something that he has begun doing, and but other promises are very much in the weeds of the bureaucracy. Things like cut brush to reduce wildfires in the west. So it's important to sort of look at them in priority.
When you look at our top 25 list, he has made progress on a lot of the really important ones. It's not to say he has fulfilled them, but he is making progress on the big ones. That's not to say he has fulfilled them, but he is making progress on the big ones.
HANSEN: Hmm. Let's step back a second because of a statistic on your site about promises. The president has kept 32 campaign promises, broken seven and compromised on 10. And these findings are coming at the same that polls are showing his popularity is dropping below 60 percent. Any of your findings offer clues on why the president's popularity is slipping?
Mr. ADAIR: I think they do. I think very much what happened early is the traditional honeymoon that presidents have. And he actually, I think, used the economic crisis to his advantage to enact many of his promises. When you look at what was included in the economic stimulus bill, he kept a lot of promises from it, and that gave some very early momentum. He also had executive power, just the ability to sign executive orders and direct cabinet departments to do things that allowed him to do things just by pure presidential muscle.
But now comes the hard part. Now come many, many promises that involve either getting the bureaucracy to do very complicated things, or major reforms like health care. And so I think the reason he has hit something of a lull in the polls is because he's done with the easy promises, and now for the hard part.
HANSEN: Health care reform - hard part.
Mr. ADAIR: Very much. Last week, when the Democrats unveiled their health care plan, we moved 10 of the health care promises to in-the-works on our Obameter, which we use to rate the promises. But, you know, you look at the terrain there, he's got some really big challenges, whether it's the loud opposition from the Republicans or the quieter opposition from his own party. There are a lot of Democrats that are wary about this.
HANSEN: Give us an example of a promise that he's made that will be difficult to keep.
Mr. ADAIR: Well, Guantanamo Bay, closing the detention center Guantanamo Bay, reforming the military tribunal system, great lines on the campaign trail. I think everybody expected that that would be easier than it is and it's not. Another one that is surprising is PAYGO, the pay-as-you-go promise. That Congress shouldn't enact any new programs unless it can pay for them, either through offsetting cuts or new revenue. That's a tough one to keep.
HANSEN: Bill Adair is Washington bureau chief of the St. Petersburg Times and editor or politifact.com. Thanks for coming in, Bill.
Mr. ADAIR: Thanks, Liane.