by WorldTribune Staff, June 14, 2018
An over-achieving former Obama administration official who boasted of creating an “echo chamber” to push the Iran nuclear deal is now a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.
Ben Rhodes, who majored in creative writing and wound up as a speech writer during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, had the official title in the Obama administration of Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications.
He made his first NBC appearance on June 3 with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press.
Rhodes told The New York Times in a May 2016 article about the “echo chamber” he was able to create and feed:
“In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. ‘We created an echo chamber,’ [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’ ”
Rhodes also has written a memoir, “The World As It Is”, about his time in the Obama administration.
Jeremi Suri, the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas, said that Rhodes’s memoir “ultimately reveals his shortcomings as a policymaker – shortcomings that reflect those of the broader administration and its president.”
“It is telling that, while the memoir will enter the historical record, it does not make its author out to be a transformative figure. And, somewhat tragically, it also diminishes Obama’s own transformative status,” Suri wrote for Foreign Policy.
“He grew up in New York, not Obama’s Chicago; he was an aspiring writer, not a policy expert; and he had little political experience. He benefited from the fact that, in the run-up to the 2008 election, Hillary Clinton drew all of the top Democratic talent to her presidential campaign. Rhodes was a young man who was skilled with words and willing to work around the clock. He was idealistic, but he had few firmly articulated positions, which made him the perfect voice for Obama.”
In the memoir, Rhodes recounts his frustration throughout his time in the White House, saying “I wrestled with the constant concern that I was losing myself inside the experience, transformed into a cipher for the needs of this other person who, after all, was a politician, playing the role of U.S. president.”
“I worried,” Rhodes continues, “that we were becoming so conservative that we were losing touch with what we had set out to do.”
Suri notes that “Rhodes does not, in more than 400 pages, offer a single moment when he and the president discussed how to articulate a strategy for making sense of the broader international changes around them. They knew what they were against – perpetual war, the spread of violent regimes, a collapse of the world economy – but they did not know what they were for.”
The Washington Free Beacon noted in a report earlier this month that Rhodes “has also been widely mocked in conservative circles for his depiction in the HBO documentary ‘The Final Year’, which featured behind-the-scenes footage of him and other key Obama foreign policy figures in 2016. At the end of the film, he is shown struggling to find words to convey his horror at Trump’s victory, which he predicted throughout the documentary wouldn’t happen.”