Many Americans look at the pathological lies of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and wonder quietly to themselves how we reached this point.
Two words: Barack Obama.
On Thursday, The New York Times ran a puff piece on White House National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, the man in charge of selling the horrific Iran nuclear deal to the public and the Congress. Rhodes, whom the Times characterizes as an “aspiring novelist” who ended up running Barack Obama’s foreign policy, brags openly about manipulating the press to lie for the administration. He spins fiction for the left.
The Times notes, “His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.”
But why should it be? Creative fiction is the name of the game in the Obama administration.
As the Times states:
Watching Rhodes work, I remember that he is still, chiefly, a writer, who is using a new set of tools – along with the traditional arts of narrative and spin – to create stories of great consequence on the biggest page imaginable…When I asked Jon Favreau, Obama’s lead speechwriter in the 2008 campaign, and a close friend of Rhodes’s, whether he or Rhodes or the president had ever thought of their individual speeches and bits of policy making as part of some larger restructuring of the American narrative, he replied, ‘We saw that as our entire job.’
Not telling the truth.
Not crafting decent policy for the United States.
Writing lies for the left.
And Rhodes has help.
The Times reports that Rhodes and his lackeys have “become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once”:
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, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them—”
“I can name them,” I said, ticking off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging.
Price laughed. “I’ll say, ‘Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,’ ” he continued, “but — ”
“In fact it’s a sign of strength!” I said, chuckling.
“And I’ll give them some color,” Price continued, “and the next thing I know, lots of these guys are in the dot-com publishing space, and have huge Twitter followings, and they’ll be putting this message out on their own.”
It gets worse. According to the Times, the entire administration narrative about the creation and content of the Iran deal was constructed from wholecloth:
Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency.
The fiction went something like this: the Iranians selected a “moderate,” Hassan Rouhani, over “hard-liners.” Rouhani wanted to make a deal to put aside a nuclear weapons plan, and a historic deal was struck. That was utter horse manure from the get-go, as the Times reports:
[T]he most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the “moderate” camp were chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration.
Who helped Obama push this nonsense? None other than Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor, both of whom “helped retail the administraiton’s narrative.”
Says Rhodes, “We created an echo chamber.”
That echo chamber repeated the lie that “negotiations” were bearing fruit, when in fact the Obama administration had already given away the store in 2012. Rhodes explains that such lies are fine: “I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote. But that’s impossible.”
What’s truly incredible about all of this is not that the Obama administration lied, lied repeatedly, activated shills like Jeffrey Goldberg to market their lies, and watched as the media parroted those lies incessantly. What’s astonishing is the utter brazenness of telling the media about it. Richard Nixon lied about Watergate. It turns out he should have just switched party registrations, bragged about Watergate to friendly leftist outlets, and then let them do his dirty work.
All of this bears Trumpian and Clintonian fruit. When nobody can be trusted to tell the truth, the truth no longer matters. We’ve now entered the world of knights who promise they are not knaves, and knaves who lie that they are not knaves. When you can’t tell the difference, lying becomes simply a mode of communication – and then the only question is, which person will lie for you?
Barack Obama perfected this world of lies, and now he brags about it to the very people he played for fools. And they’re happy to report all of it, knowing that their own readers will continue buying whatever line they choose to sell.