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Ben Rhodes’ Turn in Washington’s Spin Cycle

Posted May 17th, 2016 at 4:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Ben Rhodes was a no-show at a congressional hearing that was ostensibly about him.
Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser for strategic communications, is described in a controversial New York Times Magazine profile of him as “the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy” aside from President Obama.
The passages drawing the most attention center on the nuclear deal with Iran. The profile reveals that the White House spun a narrative that the deal came about in 2013, when “moderates” came to power in Iran when in fact, “the most meaningful part of the negotiations” took place in 2012, months before the election of President Hassan Rouhani.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee criticized Rhodes for how he managed the White House campaign to sell the deal to Congress and the media. Committee Democrats pointed out the Bush White House engineered a similar campaign about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In a letter to President Barack Obama, three U.S. senators called for him to fire Rhodes.
When voters select a presidential candidate on election day, they’re not necessarily thinking about the hundreds of people who will fill key advisory positions behind that candidate. And when the spotlight catches one of those generally anonymous presidential loyalists, it begins one of Washington’s favorite parlor games: Is the President being well served?
Ben Rhodes skipped the invitation to appear before the Congressional committee, but he cannot avoid the political spotlight.