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Liberal Elite

For much of the last week, the very small world of pundits and policy wonks has been buzzing about the New York Times’s extended profile by David Samuels of Obama foreign-policy guru Ben Rhodes, the “aspiring novelist” (as the headline put it) with a master’s in fine arts who sneers with contempt at the president’s foes and has helped helm American foreign policy in the age of ISIS.

The story is rich with detail that should scandalize anyone who is concerned with either truth or humility in American policymaking. Rhodes apparently lied to sell the Iran deal to the American public, counting on ignorant, sympathetic leftist journalists and activists to peddle the administration’s foreign-policy line and dominate the public debate. The Obama administration has become inured to tragedy, Rhodes confessed, adding, “There’s a numbing element to Syria in particular,” where 450,000 lives have been lost. And, of course, when it comes to failures and disappointments, the buck stops with the traditional foreign-policy and military “establishment” that Obama (and Rhodes) despise.

For men like Rhodes, his “entire job” (according to former speechwriter Jon Favreau) was assisting in a “larger restructuring of the American narrative.” In other words, Obama and Rhodes and Jarrett had a new story to tell about our nation and the world; all facts and circumstances were shaped to fit that story. And so — to use one illustration from the piece — Iran’s capture and humiliation of American sailors wasn’t really a story of American weakness but in reality a story of American strength.

There is nothing unique about Rhodes. In fact, he’s a perfect stand-in for America’s arrogant, incurious elite — the class of brilliant fools who populate the upper echelons of government, academia, and media. Last week, Minding the Campus’s John Leo interviewed Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield, the lion of campus conservatism, and Mansfield noted:

Students doubt that there really is anything fundamentally that they need to learn. And they look at themselves and say, if I don’t need to learn anything fundamentally, my attitudes deserve to remain as they are right now.

These Harvard undergraduates, allegedly the best of the best, of course defend those values and “attitudes” zealously, and they do so with all their considerable intellectual and rhetorical gifts. But their attitudes are impervious to facts. And so it is in the Obama administration, where neither consistent failure nor bloody disappointment can alter his view of the world. In the memorable phrase of an unnamed official, “Clearly the world has disappointed [Obama.]” It stubbornly refused to conform to his expectations.


Source: David French,

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