POTUS GETS BACK TO WORK…. President Obama sat down with NBC’s Brian Williams yesterday, covering a fair amount of ground over the course of 22 minutes. Before I saw the interview, I saw a headline: “Obama blasts lies, disinformation.” That’s sort of true, but it’s not quite how I’d characterize the discussion.

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After talking at some length about the problems afflicting the Gulf Coast in general and Louisiana in particular, Williams noted public opinion polls showing significant numbers of Americans questioning the president’s faith and birthplace. Obama more or less just shrugged off the nonsense. “The facts are the facts,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there. If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn’t get much done…. I can’t spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.”

The president, in other words, treated this is a silly, trivial distraction, which it is.

Asked about the right-wing rally on Saturday, Obama acknowledge that folks are free to “exercise their rights” to speak out, just like everyone else. But the president added that trying times often lead some segments of the population to be susceptible to dubious appeals, so “it’s not surprising that somebody like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of the country.”

As for the economy, the president gave no reason to think any new, major economic initiatives will be unveiled anytime soon, but nevertheless expressed optimism about the U.S. recovery. I wish I shared the optimism.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.