In a lengthy profile of him in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national-security adviser for strategic communication, boasts of his success at manipulating credulous journalists on the alleged virtues of the Iran deal. In doing so, he admits that—as Michael Doran has argued in these pages—the “narrative” he constructed about the origins of the deal, and the rationale behind it, was fundamentally disingenuous. John Podhoretz writes:
The storyline [the administration] 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 . . . a deliberately misleading narrative. The general terms were actually hammered out in 2012 by the State Department officials Jake Sullivan and William Burns, rooted in President 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 . . . 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,” [said Rhodes]. “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. . . .
[T]he 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.