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NBC: Obama's 'Commander-in-Chief' Moment with McChrystal a Hidden Blessing

On Wednesday's Today show, NBC's Chuck Todd touted President Obama's "swiftness" in dealing with the controversy surrounding General Stanley McChrystal comments in Rolling Stone magazine as a "commander-in-chief moment," and hinted that it was a blessing in disguise, given the executive's tanking approval ratings.

Todd led the 7 am Eastern hour with his report on the President appointing General David Petraeus to replace General McChrystal, who was relieved of command following the Rolling Stone interview. The NBC White House correspondent remarked that with the Petraeus appointment, "the President signaled to his team, no more firestorms like this one will be tolerated." After playing a clip of Mr. Obama stating that he "won't tolerate division," he continued that "the President's aides don't expect there will be much division in the Senate, either, where some are predicting Petraeus will have the fastest confirmation in history, and the praise is bipartisan."

Later in the report, Todd used his "commander-in-chief moment" term as he emphasized the apparent good timing of the controversy and detailed the public's decreasing confidence in the President, according to NBC's own poll:

TODD: Still, the swiftness of the President's action is a commander-in-chief moment, at a time when the public is having doubts about his ability. According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, just 45 percent approve of the job he's doing as president. Forty-four percent believe he's firm and decisive in his decision making. That's down from 63 percent 18 months ago. And just under half the country, 49 percent, believe he has strong leadership qualities. That's down a whopping 21 points from the month he took office. And as the list of domestic problems, like unemployment and the oil spill, pile up on the President's desk, some say it was vitally important the President buy time on Afghanistan.

An on-screen graphic further described that President Obama's disapproval rating was at 48%, though the correspondent didn't specifically mention this statistic.

Almost a day earlier, Todd lauded the chief executive just as the Petraeus appointment was being made: "Politically, in this town, it's going to be seen as a brilliant choice by the President."

The full transcript of Chuck Todd's report from Thursday's Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Let us begin with the change in command in Afghanistan. Chuck Todd is NBC's chief White House correspondent. Good morning, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Meredith. Well, after a rare swift set of personnel moves by this White House, the President is now back focused on trying to make his complicated Afghanistan strategy work, rather than fixated on who's going to implement it.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy.

TODD (voice-over): With General Petraeus by his side, and General McChrystal headed out a side door, the President signaled to his team, no more firestorms like this one will be tolerated.

OBAMA: I've just told my national security team that now is the time for all of us to come together. I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division.

TODD: The President's aides don't expect there will be much division in the Senate, either, where some are predicting Petraeus will have the fastest confirmation in history, and the praise is bipartisan.

SENATOR CARL LEVIN: I admire him and others that respond to that kind of a call from the President. I don't think he even had a chance to talk to his wife.

SENATOR LINDSAY GRAHAM: Dave Petraeus is our best hope. If things don't change, nobody can pull it out in Afghanistan.

TODD: But the hearings are expected to re-ignite the very divisive debate among the two parties about the question of a timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, scheduled to begin next July.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Whether that is, quote- etched in stone, as the President's spokesperson, Mr. Gibbs, stated, or whether it will be conditions-based.

TODD: Still, the swiftness of the President's action is a commander-in-chief moment, at a time when the public is having doubts about his ability.

According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, just 45% approve of the job he's doing as president. Forty-four percent believe he's firm and decisive in his decision making. That's down from 63% 18 months ago. And just under half the country, 49%, believe he has strong leadership qualities. That's down a whopping 21 points from the month he took office. And as the list of domestic problems, like unemployment and the oil spill, pile up on the President's desk, some say it was vitally important the President buy time on Afghanistan.

RETIRED GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY: It does give the President cover and a strategy, and it does buy him time. He's putting a leader out there that will not be questioned.

TODD (live) Today, the focus stays on foreign affairs, as the President meets with the president of another country who's familiar with a quagmire-like situation in Afghanistan. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits the White House today. The two will hold a joint press conference, and Afghanistan is likely to come up, Matt.

MATT LAUER: All right. Chuck Todd at the White House this morning. Chuck, thank you very much.

-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.