The Story Obama Should Really Be Worried About

I’ve had John Harris’s piece in today’s Politico—“7 stories Obama doesn’t want told”—sitting on my desk much of the day, trying to figure out how best to articulate what’s so irritating about it. In the end I don’t think I have much to add to the thoughts of The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder and James Fallows, the latter of whom aptly describes the Politico item as “a distillation of the ‘perception is all we care about’ approach to the world.”

Still, one quick thought: it’s a little incredible that a leading political journalist could make a list of “storylines Obama needs to worry about” that includes the phrase “too much Leonard Nimoy” but not the words “jobs” or “unemployment.” While Harris is frustratingly indifferent to the actual merits of most of the criticisms he’s repeating, he’s probably right that, for example, Obama is suffering from “the perception that he is a profligate spender.” But the president is suffering much, much more from the fact that unemployment is over 10 percent. And if he’s looking to improve his standing with voters—not to mention improve the lives of millions of Americans—it’s that fact, not any of these perceptions, that he should be working to change.

Update: I hadn’t seen this before, but Ambinder has also taken a point-by-point look at the Politico piece.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.