All candidates do this. They make wild promises, vows, pledges and assurances that, on their first day in office, they will do thus-and-such as their number-one priority. They’ll get rid of something, they’ll restore something, or they’ll put something else in place.
Usually, we can take it as nothing more than ear candy. It’s designed to stroke listeners, to get them to purr like kittens. If audiences actually paused for a moment to analyze this dreck in a clear-eyed way, they’d realize it would take the newly installed incumbent a whole day just to figure out the phones and find his or her way to the Clinton Restroom off the Oval Office. Another day to master the Nixon Memorial Recording System.
That aside, when Mitt Romney says he will repeal Obamacare on his first day, it is cause for some concern. Maybe he slept through Am Civ class at the Cranbrook School, but anyone running for president who doesn’t understand the tripartite, co-equal design of our government is the kind of person the Founding Fathers most feared: the self-made king.
George Washington himself stepped down after two terms— even though he was so popular he would have been reelected practically by voice acclaim—because he didn’t want to establish a precedent that chief executives, once installed, would not leave office.
I prefer to think Mitt Romney is employing the “first day” trope as a rhetorical device. The other possibilities—that he’s too ignorant to know better, or worse, that his judgment has been impaired by hubris—are too horrible to contemplate.