Dan Gilmore / May 6, 2016

Obama Turned to Fiction Writer to Make Up Iran Narrative

“No wonder Americans feel less safe — they are.”

Barack Obama’s adviser Ben Rhodes is an aspiring novelist whose greatest work was the narrative leading up to the Iran nuclear deal (although arguably the Benghazi tall tale ranks as high). Literally, the aspiring fiction writer published one short story before his mother got him a job in foreign policy. So speaking of fiction, in a recent interview, Rhodes boasted about duping the press, the American public and Congress on the Iran deal. The Obama administration didn’t begin negotiating the deal when the supposedly moderate Hassan Rouhani took power; the U.S. and Iran were talking about legitimizing the mullahs’ nuclear program when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still lead the country. Instead of creating plots and narratives with characters in his head, Rhodes was toying with reality, such as describing Rouhani as a character willing to talk with Obama. In part, the White House was able to do this because the American press is fragmented. The seasoned reporters have left. News organizations shuttered their foreign bureaus so they don’t have reporters on the ground in far-flung places. “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old,” Rhodes said, “and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. They literally know nothing.”

Rhodes was able to peddle this fiction because he believed a fiction himself: That Obama and Obama alone knew more than “The blob,” the people who disagreed with Obama’s view of the world. Those people included editors, reporters, former national defense advisers — even Hillary Clinton. The Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith summarizes, “For the last seven years the American public has been living through a postmodern narrative crafted by an extremely gifted and unspeakably cynical political operative whose job is to wage digital information campaigns designed to dismantle a several-decade old security architecture while lying about the nature of the Iranian regime. No wonder Americans feel less safe — they are.”

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