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Obama's multiple messages

The president is making all kinds of news--and serving as a media critic on the side.

The classic political strategy, especially in the home stretch of election season, is to pick one theme and pound it again and again. Temperamentally speaking, I'm not sure that Barack Obama is capable of that--and in today's Twitterized universe, it may no longer be possible. He even found himself talking about his religion.

On Monday, the president spent half an hour with Matt Lauer, talking about education reform. That happens to be a largely unsung area of bold reform efforts by the administration, but in the current environment I don't think it buys Obama three votes.

On Tuesday, Rolling Stone published a wide-ranging interview with the president. Yep, it might seem odd for Obama to talk to the same magazine that cost Stanley McChrystal his job. But Jann Wenner endorsed him two years ago and has been a fairly steadfast supporter.

Obama could have finessed the question about Fox News, but he chose to answer this way:

"The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition -- it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It's a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it's been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it's that Fox is very successful."

He's bashed Fox a number of times, but maybe it fires up the base.

On the same day, the White House practically endorsed MSNBC, with Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton saying: "If you're on the left, if you're somebody like Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow or one of the folks who helps to keep our government honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to progressive values, then he thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service."

In the Wenner sitdown, Obama highlighted his accomplishments: "I could have had a knock-down, drag-out fight on the public option that might have energized you and The Huffington Post, and we would not have health care legislation now."

And: "I've gotta say that I have been surprised by some of the rhetoric in the business press, in which we are accused of being anti-business."

As for the inevitable Rolling Stone question about his iPod, the president said that "my rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I've got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff, but I would not claim to be an expert."

Is the rap vote still in play? Anyone got a poll on that?

In a backyard appearance in New Mexico Tuesday, the man whom a chunk of the country thinks is a Muslim Obama answered a question about his religion: "I'm a Christian by choice," adding that his family "weren't folks who went to church every week...

"We can still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace. So that's what I strive to do and pray to do every day.... I think my public service is a part of that effort to express my Christian faith."

It is the nature of the modern presidency to have to play defense against all kinds of assaults, even on your own church-going.

Obama is still at 46 percent in the new NBC/WSJ survey. But Nancy Pelosi is at 22 percent.

Obama's name, of course, doesn't appear on the November ballot. But while Democratic candidates are trying to run their own races--which in some cases mean running away from him--Obama has little choice, in this nationalized election, but to play cheerleader-in-chief.

By Howard Kurtz  | September 29, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Latest stories, Top story  | Tags:  Fox, Jann Wenner, Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, Obama, Rachel Maddow, Rolling Stone, White House  
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Next: One-click Wednesday roundup


So Obama thinks MSNBC's message that anybody that disagrees with the status quo is a racist is more constructive than Fox news's message that the government needs to bring spending under control. No surprise there really. That's a pretty standard liberal point of view. I actually find the second part of the article more disturbing because I don't believe he listens to rap music and I'm pretty sure he is an atheist. The guy lies about everything.

Posted by: peterg73 | September 29, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Its people like peterg73 that keeps our country from moving ahead. The ignorance of nearly have the voting public amazes me.
Do you really believe that the man is an atheist? Do you really believe he would lie about listening to rap music? Why?

What is it about the man that make you hate him so much? What has he done to hurt you? What has he done to hurt this country? Did he promise too much? Was he naive about the Republican party? What standard do you hold him up to that makes you hate him so much?

Posted by: pdt278 | September 29, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Why don't I think he listens to rap music? Because only idiots Obama's age listen to rap music. Because I think it's more plausible that he is a liar than an idiot. Idiots don't get elected president of the US, liars do. Obama has an ivey league education and has been mingling with high society people for decades. He hasn't been hanging on the street corner sipping 40's. What because he's black he must listen to rap music? Who sounds like the ignorant racist now?

Posted by: peterg73 | September 29, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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