I saw a bit of Obama's speech in Iowa a few minutes ago, and it reminded me of the micro-debate over whether Obama knows how to craft a public narrative. I think the answer is clearly yes: it's just not the one that his lefty critics want him to craft. Obama was moderately tough sounding today, and he was clearly trying to relate his policy proposals to jobs jobs jobs, but at the same time he's sticking to his guns on his master narrative. It's all about Obama being the grown-up in the room and the squabbling kids in Congress needing to put "country ahead of party" for once in their misbegotten lives.
That's not a popular message among the progressive base, but it's obvious that Obama doesn't care. He's doubling down on this narrative, with jobs added on as the overlay of the moment. Nonetheless, employment is plainly not his main theme even if it permeates everything he says. Persuading the public that he's a sober, serious guy who's fit to be president is. He's running against Teh Crazy, not against Mitt Romney or Rick Perry.