August 17th, 2010
08:07 AM ET
8 years ago

Does Obama have a message problem?


Obama may gave a messaging problem in the wake of his mosque comments. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - President Obama's comments on a plan to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero are not only giving opponents an opportunity to attack him but also reveal a messaging problem from the White House, a communications expert said.

"The danger here is an incoherent presidency," said David Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group, who provided communications advice to Obama's 2008 campaign. "Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about. So I think that's the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past [in the campaign]."

Obama has faced a torrent of criticism for what was called mixed messages on the controversial plan. On Friday, Obama said Muslims "have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country ... That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. dan

    Obama have a problem period>his message is not getting out,he is in a bubble Mr President,don't worry about what your enemies think,,worry about what your party thinks.

    August 17, 2010 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  2. Jasz

    Yes Obama does have a message problem! Its the RNC, the Tea Party, and the haters distorting or taking his message out of context.

    August 17, 2010 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  3. Angus McDugan

    Conspiracy theory: Obama knows the democrats will have a very hard time discussing Obama’s failure concerning the economy during the mid-terms this fall. Also, democrats do not want to be associated with Obama right now as he and his support is toxic to any candidate. Given this, Obama comes out with a statement concerning the mosque at Ground Zero which is Constitutionally correct but extremely insensitive to Americans. This gives the democrats an opportunity to say the mosque needs to be built somewhere else which provides the following benefits to the democrat.

    1. Distances themselves from Obama by disagreeing with him.
    2. Support a very popular position.
    3. Discussing an issue that is not local to their voters.
    3. Leave Obama protected by his statement being Constitutionally correct.

    This results in increased popularity for the candidate. This is truly a brilliant political move on the democrats part!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2010 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  4. Steve

    I understood what the President said on Friday, and I do not see any inconsistencies in his subsequent message on Saturday...I don't know if this message consultant is looking to drum up some business, but this article only quotes 1 this 1 source...pretty thin, if you ask me.

    August 17, 2010 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  5. Dem in AZ

    I think the President has every right to speak his mind on the muslim community center. I wish the right if the political world would stop calling it a mosque. Really? Do we just have that many ignorant people out there? Or do politicians just as usuall want to spread fear?

    August 17, 2010 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  6. terry,va

    He doesn't have a message problem. What he says initially is what he really believes. He is a closet political and social radical. He slips out of the closet every now and then we get his spokespeople scrambling around to clean up his mess.

    August 17, 2010 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. Thomas

    With respect, the President needs to recognize that he does not need to comment on every issue. There are some issues in which the office of the President is "above" commenting.

    August 17, 2010 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  8. Greg Pottstown PA

    Obama tells Muslims one thing and tells the rest another. This is nothing new from this guy.

    August 17, 2010 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  9. rdepontb

    At this point, folks, we realize that whatever the President (or anyone in the Administration for that matter) says will be attacked by the Republicans. They have gone so far, with Newt's and Rush's Hitler/Nazi/Socialist/Fascist/mixed-religious talk at the bottom of the heap, that it is simply impossible to take any of them seriously anymore. The random voice of reason is quickly shouted down or ostracized or otherwise silenced and made irrelevant.

    Is this any way to balance our views in this nation?

    August 17, 2010 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  10. The Other Dale

    I keep reading Obama's statements and I'm still not seeing where the "mixed message" is supposed to be. I mean, beyond that of Republicans who ignore what was said and claim that it was a "mixed message" and the media – looking for a story – repeating the Republicans' claim.

    But, hey, once again, if Republicans want to live in la-la-land where everything is going their way, that's up to them. The rest of us will just get on with dealing with reality – such as seeing this as a non-issue.

    Will anyone really be going into the voting booth in November and say, "My Democratic Rep is doing a great job for us here in Iowa, but because of someone talking about a Mosque in New York , I'm going to vote for a Republican?"

    August 17, 2010 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  11. ST

    I disagree. He does not have a message problem at all.
    I do think the Pres. learnt a lesson during the incidence which resulted to the beer summit. He learnt choosing side always results being in problem especially when you are a leader.
    By not endorsing or denouncing the building of the Islamic Centre, puts him in a very safe position for those 2 sides to realise which side he has chosen, thus allowing these two sides to continue with their talking points and this is what we are doing now.
    To me that is really leadership!

    August 17, 2010 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  12. Blaum

    Obama has lots of problems..... this is just one of them...

    August 17, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  13. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    No, the president doesn't have a "message" problem. The GOP have a fear problem - they want to make people afraid of something they shouldn't be afraid of so they can win elections.

    So an Islamic community center is being built two blocks from Ground Zero. And? So? But? Therefore? There are how many mosques in New York? How close are they? How many Muslims were murdered by Al Queda on 9/11?

    Sheesh. What's next? What will the GOP stupidly argue against? I'm guessing there won't be any Japanese restaurants allowed near Pearl Harbor or anywhere on Hawaii. I'm guess there won't be any Taco Bells or Tex-Mex restaurants allowed near the Alamo.

    If you want to argue against something folks, then have some concrete reason and not the fear-mongering nonsense the GOP likes to spew.

    August 17, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  14. ATL Guy

    I think the question we should be asking ourselves is "Has America Become Ungovernable?".

    August 17, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. Veteran

    Confucius say "man who in love with self and speaks way to much in trouble always " !

    August 17, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. Liz the First

    The problem isn't with Obama's message, the problem is with the rethugs throwing distraction after distraction at a witless media who would rather cover and blow up so-called controversies over mosques instead of covering this presiden't monumental achievements. Obama has accomplished more in 18 months to benefit all Americans than most presidents do in two terms. he's done things no president has ever done before. it's the governmental equivalent of walking on water but all he gets from the media is 'but his poll numbers are way down,' or 'but he waded into the mosque controversy.' start covering what this great man has done and is continuing to do to help this country get out of the worst mess in decades and quit blowing up the distractions all out of proportion. and as far as Quayle saying he's the worst president ever, considering the source we need to take it as a compliment. it's like Hitler saying Roosevelt is the worst president ever. 🙂

    August 17, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  17. Kimberly in Houston

    No, the media does! I am so tired of these distractions and culture wars. But thank you CNN for keeping them going and not adressing the "real" issues.

    Maybe if we tried as hard to build each other up as we do to tear each other down, this country would be in much better shape!

    August 17, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  18. Jab

    If you actually listened to his comments, there should be no confusion. He was not condoning them building it where they plan on but that constitutionally they are within their rights. If we tell them no, what religion is next on the list. If you are going to base religions upon hatred, how about the Baptists after all the Baptist church in Kansas spreads as much hate as anyone.... or perhaps the Catholics with the pedophile priest scandals....etc., etc., etc.

    August 17, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  19. The Other Micheal in Houston

    No he does not have a message problem. Some American people have a racial problem which is the real issue. President Obama is doing what he was elected to do, to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, something that you American hating Republicans have a hard time doing, well unless you call only protecting the 2nd and 10th admendment only "defending the Constitution". The arguement against building a Mosque in site of the World Trade Center is at best laughable. If we the real American public adhere to your theory then there should not be a church within 20 miles of the federal building in Oklahoma City that was bombed by a CHRISTIAN Group. Oh I forgot, since they were white, that means that terror attack was okay. That is okay, we elected President Obama in 2008 as we will re-elect him in 2012. Oh by the way CNN, please open the comments on the Quayle rant, please. I have so much to say about his "nine reasons"! Obviously, he was in a coma between 2000 and 2008.

    August 17, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  20. Jim Brodie

    What's the problem? What the President stated were 2 facts: 1. American citizens are free to use their property as they see fit (within local ordinances). 2. Americans are free to practice any religion. The right wingers jumped on this automatically, as they do with anything he says, even if they don't disagree with it (and have you ever heard a conservative disagree with either of the above statements?) The press, meanwhile, seems to wnat to engage in some "Let's you and him fight!" activity (liberal bias, my arse). What the president said was absolutely correct. What he should have added was, While the mosque builders have the right, they should respect the 100s of Americans who have justified emotional feelings tied to 9-11 and build their mosque elsewhere. The he should've just dropped it. That's all that a reasonable person would need to hear about this issue.

    August 17, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  21. Facts are not fair to the GOP

    Fox and the right wingnuts have fired up the fear and hate group with their non stop attack on the first amendment. Obama was clear that he is sworn to protect the constitution, unlike the elected republicans. I remeber Mike Pence and the republican circus clowns parade out in front of the tea baggers and say they supported the constitution that they are now seeking to change. At any rate, this mosque (which is not a mosque and not at ground zero)sure keeps voter's minds off the republicans obstruction, ineptness and incompetence.

    August 17, 2010 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  22. JMR

    Mixed message?

    "Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the mosque plan, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp."

    It's not a mosque, CNN Reasearch Corp. Of course, you already know that don't you?

    August 17, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  23. Ben in Texas

    All Obama did was to state the obvious: Muslims have a right, under the First Amendment, to build a place of worship on private land. There is absolutely no doubt about that, no matter what Repugnant racists say.

    It's the Repugnants who have a message problem. On one hand, they rant about obeying the Constitution, and on the other, they adamantly try to deny freedom of religion to their enemies. They hold fast to their perceived right to own and carry any weapon imaginable, under a phony interpretation of the Second Amendment, but they want to deny the longstanding rights of individuals born in this country under the Fourteenth Amendment. That's a really mixed up message.

    August 17, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  24. Bob in Florida

    The President has no message problem. There are many people who have difficulty understanding English and apparently CNN, is one of them.

    August 17, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. mw-worthy

    No more than people have a listening problem.

    August 17, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
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