Posted: 12:26 am PT
David Samuels has a must read profile of Ben Rhodes over in the New York Times. Rhodes is the deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for President Obama. His official title is “Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting.” According to his WH bio, he is tasks with overseeing President Obama’s national security communications, speechwriting, and global engagement. Below are some striking nuggets from that NYT profile of the master of spin. Please read and weep.
#1. “On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.” And here we thought the voice is that of John Kirby, the official spokesperson of the State Department.
#2. “He is, according to the consensus of the two dozen current and former White House insiders I talked to, the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from Potus himself.” Wait, not Clinton, or Kerry? Is that why Secretary Kerry can’t get a new plane?
#3. “One day, when Rhodes and I were sitting in his boiler-room office, he confessed, with a touch of bafflement, “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.” Whoopsie! Did you fell off your chair, too?
#4. “I watch the message bounce from Rhodes’s brain to Price’s keyboard to the three big briefing podiums — the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon — and across the Twitterverse, where it springs to life in dozens of insta-stories, which over the next five hours don formal dress for mainstream outlets.“ This would make a nice infographic.
#5. “It has been rare to find Ben Rhodes’s name in news stories about the large events of the past seven years, unless you are looking for the quotation from an unnamed senior official in Paragraph 9. He is invisible because he is not an egotist, and because he is devoted to the president.” No doubt he is devoted to the president, but when the unnamed senior official in para 9 is also the spin doctor that invisibility is more about media strategery than about ego.
#6. “For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.” Which ones? All of them?
#7. “He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.“ This summer’s expected blockbuster — The Blob (a Foreign Affairs Thriller).
#8. “Now the most effectively weaponized 140-character idea or quote will almost always carry the day, and it is very difficult for even good reporters to necessarily know where the spin is coming from or why.” Difficult but not impossible?
#9. “The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums, each of which has its own dedicated press corps. “But then there are sort of these force multipliers,” he said, adding, “We have our compadres …” Oh, golly!
#10. “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,” he 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.” That feeling you get when you’re about to throw up?
Ladies and gentlemen, the vomitorium is the second pristine white door to the right. Proceed with caution; it’s crazy bad in there.