The Washington Insider Who Believes He’s an Outsider
What the profile of Ben Rhodes tells us about ego and politics inside the Obama administration.
On this week’s episode of The E.R., Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf, Rosa Brooks, and Kori Schake are joined by first-time guest Mark Landler, the White House correspondent for the New York Times. The panel begins with its takes on the controversial New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, a top foreign-policy advisor to President Barack Obama. Much like Obama seemed to have miscalculated the impact of his sit-down with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg (as discussed in a previous episode of this podcast), Rhodes, the panel observes, didn’t get the victory lap he may have been hoping for with the New York Times‘s article.
While the president is in his final months of leadership, the panel pulls apart what other former Obama administration officials — from Leon Panetta to Bob Gates — have said following their time in the White House, and what it means, and poses a sharp question: How can those working inside the White House consider themselves outsiders?
It all seems to circle back to one thing: egos in politics — the driving theme of Landler’s new book, Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power. This episode is part one of a two-part discussion, focused this week on Obama. Stay tuned for next week’s episode of The E.R., when the panel discusses Hillary Clinton and more.
Mark Landler is the White House correspondent for the New York Times and author of Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power. Follow him on Twitter at: @MarkLandler.
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