Ben Rhodes admits administration lied to sell Iran deal

Ben Rhodes is perhaps the weirdest foreign policy adviser in the history of the White House.  His path to his current position as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications was, as this New York Times profile informs us, "perhaps not strictly believable, even as fiction."

Forget his title.  Ben Rhodes is "the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from Potus himself," according to the Times.  What makes that so bizarre is that Rhodes has no background in foreign policy at all.  He was a failed short story writer who wandered into the orbit of Obama aides almost by accident and served as a speechwriter during the campaign.

But he helped the administration identify friendly reporters and nonprofits who could be counted on to carry a completely false and misleading "narrative" about the Iran deal.

And it worked.

John Podhoretz:

The storyline they peddled was that the Iran deal had been negotiated in a furious round of back-and-forthing in 2014 and 2015, with the United States getting far better terms out of Iran than it expected due to the flexibility of a newly moderate government in Tehran.

It was, Samuels says, a deliberately misleading narrative. The general terms were actually hammered out in 2012 by the State Department officials Jake Sullivan and William Burns, rooted on Obama’s deep desire from the beginning of the administration to strike a grand deal with the mullahs.

Why on earth was such conduct remotely acceptable? Because, Samuels makes clear, Rhodes and Obama believe they’re the only sensible thinkers in America and that there’s no way to get the right things done other than to spin them. “I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” he tells Samuels. “But that’s impossible.”

Impossible? There was a sober, reasoned public debate over the Iran deal. Its opponents were deadly serious. In the end, 58 senators voted against it on sober, reasoned grounds.

What the Samuels piece shows is that the Obama administration chose to attempt to get its way not by winning an argument but by bringing an almost fathomless cynicism to bear in manipulating its own clueless liberal fan club.

It's amazing how Rhodes sees himself and his role.  He refers to the foreign policy establishment as "the blob," and at bottom, he believes he and Obama are the only smart ones in the room.

Weekly Standard:

Samuels's profile is an amazing piece of writing about the Holden Caulfield of American foreign policy. He's a sentimental adolescent with literary talent (Rhodes published one short story before his mother's connections won him a job in the world of foreign policy), and high self regard, who thinks that everyone else is a phony. Those readers who found Jeffrey Goldberg's picture of Obama in his March Atlantic profile refreshing for the president's willingness to insult American allies publicly will be similarly cheered here by Rhodes's boast of deceiving American citizens, lawmakers, and allies over the Iran deal. Conversely, those who believe Obama risked American interests to take a cheap shot at allies from the pedestal of the Oval Office will be appalled to see Rhodes dancing in the end zone to celebrate the well-packaged misdirections and even lies—what Rhodes and others call a "narrative"—that won Obama his signature foreign policy initiative.

The creation of that narrative was, as Samuels points out, a tissue of lies and misdirection that made the Iran deal sound a lot better than it really was.  All you have to do to discover the extent of their flim-flamming is to look at the talking points about the agreement after the preliminary deal was agreed to in April and compare it with the final agreement in July.  The dishonesty in selling this deal to Congress was so profound that we still don't know yet how Iran is interpreting parts of it.

Samuels's profile is very long and, at times, strains credulity that such a creature could become a top adviser to the president.  But it also unintentionally reveals how easily the Washington press corps can be manipulated into doing the president's bidding.  There was very little objective analysis of the Iran deal, nor any attempt to reconcile what was in the deal with what the administration was claiming in public. 

If there had been, it's doubtful that the deal would have gone through Congress.

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