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Ben Rhodes–just the right kind of man for an Obama Administration

by | May 9, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes

At first, I was going to just let it pass. I mean is there anything new about anyone connected with the Obama administration so in love with himself as to put Narcissus to shame–while dripping with contempt for mere mortals?

But then I read some pushback from reporters who were on the receiving end of the latest put-downs, in this case by Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. In a looooong and adoring profile that appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rhodes bragged of how he manipulated reporters into accepting the Administration’s blatantly dishonest portrayal of the nuclear deal with Iran.

The issue, obviously, is not ours, so we won’t talk about the particulars. But what it says about Obama, the kind of people he likes around him, his less-than-wholehearted admiration for the truth, and the willingness of reporters to serve as mindless conduits for pro-Obama propaganda is worth pondering for a few minutes.

Remember: we wouldn’t have ObamaCare if the President hadn’t been–to be charitable–disingenuous about a phony baloney “executive order” that did nothing (contrary to his assurances) to rid this massive restructuring of our nation’s health care system of its many abortion-promoting features.

David Samuels’ profile/puff piece went on forever and some of the criticisms were as harsh as his was soft and would have been equally as long had their editors been willing.

So let me make three points, starting by quoting the lead of the story written by the Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada:

I just don’t know anymore where David Samuels begins and Ben Rhodes ends.

Samuels’s massive New York Times magazine profile of Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, is already prompting debates over the administration’s truthfulness in promoting the Iran nuclear deal, as well as over the disdain with which Rhodes regards the Washington press corps, the U.S. foreign policy establishment — basically anyone who is not himself, President Obama, or fellow West Wing narrative pushers.

So the piece, posted Thursday and titled “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” is, in straightforward terms, a real talker, a success. Even if it is, as a piece of nonfiction writing, kind of gross.

#1. Rhodes brags to Samuels that it was easy to create an “echo chamber” because most newspapers nowadays have inexperienced reporter to cover foreign affairs. Add that to they fed talking points to “independent experts” who were already in their camp. So gullibility + “experts” willing to hew to the party line=echo chamber.

#2. The Post’s Paul Farhi chimes in

In the article, Rhodes speaks contemptuously of the Washington policy and media establishment, including The Washington Post and the New York Times, referring to them as “the blob” that was subject to conventional thinking about foreign policy.

“We had test-drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like [the anti-nuclear group] Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked,” Rhodes says. Speaking of Republicans and other opponents, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rhodes adds that he knew “we drove them crazy.”

I couldn’t help thinking when I read this of some of the quotes from President Obama’s remarks at the White House Correspondents dinner and the way so many of the high mucky mucks of journalism couldn’t fall over themselves fast enough in admiration.

That he was vicious towards the Republicans running to be his successor is no surprise; politics ain’t beanbag. That reporters still acted as if being debased by the President is cool tells you all you need to know how–seven years into his presidency–they still cut Obama enormous slack. Stockholm Syndrome anyone?

Rhodes, 38, said in the article that it was easy to shape a favorable impression of the proposed agreement because of the inexperience of many of those covering the issue.

#3. Farhi also wrote

Rhodes’s freewheeling and cynical comments reminded several White House and national security reporters of an infamous 2010 story in Rolling Stone magazine in which Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and aides mocked civilian government officials, including Vice President Biden. McChrystal apologized for the comments but later tendered his resignation, which Obama accepted.

It was, of course, Bill Clinton who, when running for President in 1992, first began traipsing around in decidedly non-traditional media circles, like the Arsenio Hall show where he played his sax. Nowadays, courtesy of our 44th President, our nation’s highest elected official has also appear in such hard-hitting news programs the “Late Show with Jimmy Fallon,’ “The View,” and “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.”

We’ve come a long way. Perhaps the only thing worse is the way White House press secretary Josh Earnest vigorously disputed the idea that the administration had mislead anyone when Shapiro’s whole point was they had–and he was proud of it.

Yikes.

Categories: Politics