Ben Rhodes' World As It Is

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

Peter Baker at the New York Times well summarizes the book that Ben Rhodes wrote:


Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory.

“What if we were wrong?” he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.

He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. “Maybe we pushed too far,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”

What if? Assuming Mr. Rhodes accurately transcribed the former president’s words, Obama didn’t understand that the American people rejected the liberal, politically-cleansed tribe that Obama and Hillary offered. Mr. Rhodes titled his book “The World As It Is”, but he’s really talking about his own cloistered world in Obama’s inner circle.

In the weeks after Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Obama went through multiple emotional stages, according to a new book by his longtime adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes. At times, the departing president took the long view, at other points, he flashed anger. He called Mr. Trump a “cartoon” figure who cared more about his crowd sizes than any particular policy. And he expressed rare self-doubt, wondering whether he had misjudged his own influence on American history.

Set to be published next week by Random House, Mr. Rhodes’s memoir, “The World as It Is,” offers a peek into Mr. Obama’s tightly sealed inner sanctum from the perspective of one of the few people who saw him up close through all eight years of his presidency. Few moments shook Mr. Obama more than the decision by voters to replace him with a candidate who had questioned his very birth.

Mr. Rhodes served as Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser through some of the most consequential points of his presidency, including decisions to authorize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, send more troops to Afghanistan, pull most troops out of Iraq, restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, seal a nuclear agreement with Iran, intervene militarily in Libya and refuse to intervene militarily in Syria.

But his book offers a new window, if only slightly cracked open, into the 44th president’s handling of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election to help Mr. Trump get elected and the aftermath.

It’s not surprising that Rhodes’ window was “only slightly cracked open”. If there is one thing we really need to know about his role, just read back his own words from five years ago:

“My main job, which has always been my job, is to be the person who represents the president’s views on these issues.”

That’s all you really need to know about Ben Rhodes and his latest literary offering. Even sixteen months after Obama left office, it’s all about sticking to the Obama narrative and party line. There, I just saved you $13.99 (plus tax) on iBooks.

Mr. Baker glossed over the foreign policy failures that Mr. Rhodes was intimately involved with. Sure, Obama got bin Laden, but…

  • The 44th president left Afghanistan the same or worse since his January 2009 inauguration;
  • Obama cut-and-run from Iraq, which opened the door to Maliki’s malfeasance and the Islamic State’s taking big chunks of that country;
  • He opened travel and commerce with Cuba, but that didn’t stop the Castro regime from shooting debilitating sonic waves into our embassy;
  • He cut a deal with Iran but did exactly nothing to address the Mullahs’ bad behavior;
  • He intervened in Libya (with a big leg-up from Hillary) and helped turned that country into a basket case (the British report to Parliament is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how badly the US and NATO botched it);
  • He dithered over Syria for five long years, watching Russia and Iran insert their tenterhooks more deeply into a brutal Assad regime (Operation Inherent Resolve should have been called Operation Incoherent Resolve), and not getting serious about the Islamic State until late 2014;
  • He completely misread Vladimir Putin and his hostile intentions, doing practically nothing when the Russian dictator took Ukrainian territory and when he inserted himself into an American election;
  • He presided over a record number of drones strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, which did nothing to reduce the number of militant Islamists in either country.

I could go on. If there was a country that the United States actually improved relations with, I can’t think of one this side of Burma. That should be Obama’s and Rhodes’ legacy, for pretending to be experts at foreign policy but basically doing nothing to improve foreign relations with anyone. Let’s face it, “don’t do stupid s**t” was never a winning approach.

There were two other interesting parts to Mr. Baker’s article, one being Mr. Rhodes’ lack of knowledge of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the connections between the Putin and the Trump campaign, and this:

Mr. Obama and his team were confident that Mrs. Clinton would win and, like much of the country, were shocked when she did not. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have seen it coming,” Mr. Rhodes writes. “Because when you distilled it, stripped out the racism and misogyny, we’d run against Hillary eight years ago with the same message Trump had used: She’s part of a corrupt establishment that can’t be trusted to bring change.”

In other words, Hillary was a bad candidate–and I mean a really bad candidate–in 2008, so why did Democrats expect her to be anything different or better in 2016? Anyway, Hot Air and the WA Examiner cover Rhodes as well, and I have no sympathy for his shell-shocked emotions below. He reaped what he sowed.




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