The Ticket

Obama yearns for protest tunes, worries about Malia on Facebook

Olivier Knox
The Ticket
In this handout form the White House, (L to R) U.S. President Barack Obama, daughter Malia Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha Obama sit for portrait in the Green Room of the White House September 1, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz/White House via Getty Images)
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In this handout form the White House, (L to R) U.S. President Barack Obama, daughter Malia Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha Obama sit for portrait in the Green Room of the White House September 1, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Annie Leibovitz/White House via Getty Images)

President Barack Obama told MTV in an interview Friday that he wished there were more overtly political music today and said that he's not as concerned about elder daughter Malia dating or driving as he is about her being on Facebook.

Interviewer Sway Calloway had asked the commander in chief whether he was more worried about seeing his daughters go out with boys, get behind the wheel or join the social networking site.

"I'd worry about Facebook right now, " he said. "I know the folks at Facebook obviously they've revolutionized, you know, the social networks. But Malia, because she's well known, I'm very keen on her protecting her privacy."

"She can make her own decisions obviously later as she gets older, but right now, even just for security reasons, she doesn't have a Facebook page. Dates, that's fine, 'cause she's got Secret Service protection," he added with a smile. Obama said he hoped his girls would date "boys who respect them and value them and understand their worth."

"Driver's license, that always worries a parent. But you know, sooner or later they've got to leave the nest, so we'll have to figure out how she gets the license," he said. The half-hour exchange, broadcast live on MTV and on the channel's website, was one of 10 interviews Obama did on Friday—most of them targeting pivotal battleground states or key demographics like young voters.

Calloway pointed to politically engaged musicians like Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine and asked the president who, today, best "inspired and informed" young people.

"We haven't seen as much directly political music. I think the most vibrant musical art form right now, over the last 10-15 years, has been hip-hop. And there have been some folks that have kind of dabbled in political statements," Obama replied.

"But a lot of it has been more cultural than political. You've got folks like Springsteen who are still putting out very strong political statements, but I'd like to see a more explicit discussion of the issues that are out there right now," he said. (The president's campaign rallies typically close with Springsteen's "We Take Care of Our Own" and the The Boss has campaign for Obama, notably in Ohio.)

"You just mentioned Bob Marley, I can remember when I was in college listening and not agreeing with his whole philosophy necessarily, but raising my awareness about how people outside of our country were thinking about the struggles for jobs, and dignity and freedom," Obama said.

"You think about a lot of music of the 70s, there was a sense of engagement in what was happening with the anti-war movement, what was happening with respect to the civil rights movement.

"And so I would hope that we're going to see more of that, 'cause young people, they communicate in a lot of different ways and everything moves so fast today that you can set the world on fire in a positive way just through a message that goes through the Internet," he said, adding with a smile that when he bought music in years past "I had to go buy an album or a cartridge." (When's the last time the defunct 8-track platform for music came up in a presidential interview?)

But, Obama noted, because of the campaign and crises on his plate, "I haven't updated my iPod."

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