05.12.2016 10:39 AM

Profiling: from next week’s Hill Times

A snippet from my column about the Ben Rhodes controversy, and the lessons that some might be able to draw from up here in the Great White North:

But the Rhodes profile in the Times is a cautionary tale for political staffers everywhere, even in far-away Ottawa, Ontario. Because, in it, Rhodes gave writer David Samuels extraordinary access – and he was extraordinarily candid. Rhodes told Samuels, on the record, that the press corps are “27-year-olds…who literally know nothing.” He called the entirety of the foreign policy establishment – including Hillary Clinton – “the Blob.” He said he had created an “echo chamber” of talking heads who say “what we [have] given them to say.” He said some of his colleagues “can’t keep a secret for two hours.” He said – and, again, this is a quote – “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

Sound familiar?

Sound, say, like not a few “senior strategists” who have blown into town on the wings of someone else’s election victory, achieved unprecedented powers, and then frittered it all away with an ill-advised sit-down with someone like David Samuels?

It happens all the time. A senior staffer succumbs to the siren song of some scheming media inquisitor – You’re so influential! The bureaucracy and caucus respect you so! How did you get so close to The Leader? Was that your words I detected in that wonderful speech/policy/year-end interview? – and, inevitably, they come to profoundly regret it. The newspaper containing the profile piece thuds against their door early one morning, they shuffle to get it in their slippers, they scan it, they frown. They start frantically texting friends: “Do you think it’s bad? Does it create a problem for the boss? Should I demand a correction?”

Take my word for it, having previously taken a celebrated trip to the burn unit, myself: it’s almost always bad. It creates a problem for the boss. And a correction won’t undo the damage.


1 Comment

  1. ABB says:

    That guy Rhodes is such a puffed up narcissistic P.O.S. – you can tell from his demeanour. I read the article when it was freshly posted and was incredulous myself. The speechwriter Jon Favreau (in Obama’s first term) was cut from the same deficient character also. Total ego-driven pompous blow-hard.

    I think this happens when those back-room dealers somehow fantasize that they are as smart (or smarter) than elected masters. Whereas the right-minded back-room folks respect the chain of command and don’t suffer such ego-driven fantasy.

    In the old days, it was Jim Coutts for Trudeau, and a bunch of others I can’t recall over time. Good solid people, not glory-seekers.

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