Ben Rhodes (White House staffer) - Wikipedia

Benjamin J. Rhodes (born November 14, 1977) is a writer and political commentator. With Jake Sullivan, he is the co-chair of National Security Action, a political NGO.[1] He contributes to NBC News and MSNBC regularly as a political commentator.[2] He is also a Crooked Media contributor, and co-host of the foreign policy podcast Pod Save the World.[3]

In 2018, Random House published Rhodes's memoir, The World as It Is, a New York Times bestseller and revelatory behind-the-scenes account of Barack Obama's presidency. George Packer in the New Yorker called the book "the closest view of Obama we’re likely to get until he publishes his own memoir."[4] In the New York Times, Joe Klein wrote, "His achievement is rare for a political memoir: He has written a humane and honorable book."[5] Rhodes has written opinion articles for newspapers and magazines including the New York Times and The Atlantic.[6][7]

During the Obama administration, Rhodes led the secret negotiations with Cuba that resulted in the December 17, 2014 announcement by President Obama and Raúl Castro that the two countries would normalize relations. Rhodes traveled to Canada and the Vatican for talks with Cuba about a prisoner exchange that led to the release of Alan Gross and a U.S. intelligence asset, along with the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.[8] In his book, Rhodes revealed that his negotiating counterpart was Alejandro Castro, the son of Raúl. Rhodes was the U.S. government representative at the funeral for Fidel Castro in 2016.[9] Rhodes has been critical of the Trump administration's approach to Cuba.[10]

Rhodes was featured in the HBO documentary The Final Year, along with John Kerry, Samantha Power and Susan Rice. The documentary portrays the events of Obama’s final year in office, with a focus on his foreign policy team.[11]

Early life and education [ edit ]

Rhodes was born in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan He is the son of an Episcopalian father from Texas and a Jewish mother from New York.[12][13] He attended the Collegiate School, graduating in 1996.[14][15] Rhodes then attended Rice University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2000 with majors in English and political science.[13] He then moved back to New York, attending New York University and graduating in 2002 with an MFA in creative writing.[16] His brother, David Rhodes, is a former President of CBS News.[17][18]

Career [ edit ]

In the summer of 1997, Rhodes volunteered with the Rudy Giuliani mayoral campaign.[13] In the summer of 2001, he worked on the New York City Council campaign of Diana Reyna.[19] In 2002, James Gibney, editor of Foreign Policy, introduced Rhodes to Lee Hamilton, former member of the House of Representatives and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who was looking for a speechwriter.[15] Rhodes then spent five years as an assistant to Hamilton, helping to draft the Iraq Study Group Report and the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.[20][21]

In 2007, Rhodes began working as a speechwriter for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.[22]

Rhodes wrote Obama's 2009 Cairo speech "A New Beginning".[23] Rhodes was the adviser who counseled Obama to withdraw support from Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak,[13] becoming a key adviser during the 2011 Arab Spring.[12][18]

Rhodes was instrumental in the conversations that led to Obama reestablishing the United States' diplomatic relations with Cuba,[24] which had been cut off since 1961. The New York Times reported that Rhodes spent "more than a year sneaking off to secret negotiations in Canada and finally at the Vatican" in advance of the official announcement in December 2014.[25]

After leaving the Obama administration, Rhodes began working as a commentator.[26] He wrote The World as It Is and began contributing to Crooked Media, NBC News and MSNBC. In 2018, he co-founded National Security Action.[27]

Rhodes has criticized U.S. involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[28][29] He wrote of the war in Yemen, "Looking back, I wonder what we might have done differently, particularly if we’d somehow known that Obama was going to be succeeded by a President Trump."[28]

Controversies [ edit ]

In a controversial profile in The New York Times Magazine, Rhodes was quoted "deriding the D.C. press corps and boasting of how he created an 'echo chamber' to market the administration's foreign policy", including the international nuclear agreement with Iran.[16][17][18] The piece was criticized by numerous journalism outlets for its lack of journalistic integrity and biases against the Iran deal.[30][31][32]

In 2017, it was alleged that Israeli private intelligence firm Black Cube attempted to manufacture incriminating or embarrassing information about Rhodes and his wife, as well as fellow former National Security Council staffer Colin Kahl, in an apparent effort to undermine supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. Rhodes said of the incident, "This just eviscerates any norm of how governments should operate or treat their predecessors and their families. It crosses a dangerous line."[21]

Awards and honors [ edit ]

In 2011, Rhodes was on Time magazine's "40 Under 40" list of powerful and prominent young professionals.[33] Rhodes was number 13 on Fortune magazine's "40 Under 40" list of the most influential young people in business in 2014.[34]

In 2015, Rhodes was named one of Foreign Policy magazine's top 100 global thinkers.[35]

Books [ edit ]

Personal life [ edit ]

Rhodes is married to Ann Norris, who was chief foreign policy adviser to former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). They have two daughters.[36][37]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Gearan, Anne (February 27, 2018). "Democrats marshal strike force to counter Trump on national security in 2018, 2020 elections". Washington Post . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  2. ^ "Former Obama Adviser Ben Rhodes Joins NBC News and MSNBC". . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  3. ^ "Crooked Media Announces New Site, Pod, Store, and Network of Very Fine People on Both Sides". Crooked Media . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  4. ^ Packer, George (June 18, 2018). "Witnessing the Obama Presidency, from Start to Finish". New Yorker.
  5. ^ Klein, Joe (June 5, 2018). "Deep Inside the Obama White House". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  6. ^ Rhodes, Ben; Sullivan, Jake (November 25, 2018). "Opinion | How to Check Trump and Repair America's Image". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  7. ^ Rhodes, Ben (October 12, 2018). "A Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership". The Atlantic . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  8. ^ LeoGrande, William. "Fidel Castro has died. Here's an inside look at Cuba's crazy back-channel negotiations with Obama". Mother Jones . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  9. ^ Harris, Gardiner (November 29, 2016). "Obama to Send Aide to Fidel Castro's Funeral". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  10. ^ Rhodes, Ben (June 16, 2017). "Trump's Cuba Policy Will Fail". The Atlantic . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  11. ^ Glasser, Susan B. "How Does Obama's Foreign Policy Look a Year Into Trump?". POLITICO Magazine . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  12. ^ a b Landler, Mark (March 16, 2013). "Worldly at 35, and Shaping Obama's Voice". New York Times.
  13. ^ a b c d Fields, Sarah (October 22, 2018). Summary: Ben Rhodes' The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House. HSP via PublishDrive.
  14. ^ "Election 2008: Ben Rhodes '96, Speechwriter and Advisor to Barack Obama". Collegiate School. October 27, 2008 . Retrieved September 24, 2013 .
  15. ^ a b Jason Horowitz (January 12, 2010). "Obama speechwriter pens a different script for the world stage". Washington Post . Retrieved September 24, 2013 .
  16. ^ "Election 2008: Ben Rhodes '96, Speechwriter and Advisor to Barack Obama". Collegiate School. October 27, 2008 . Retrieved September 24, 2013 .
  17. ^ Brian Steinberg (November 20, 2014). "David Rhodes To Take Over CBS News As Jeff Fager Steps Down". Variety . Retrieved May 29, 2015 .
  18. ^ a b Landler, Mark (March 15, 2013). "Worldly at 35, and Shaping Obama's Voice". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved January 15, 2019 .
  19. ^ Jason Horowitz (January 12, 2010). "Obama speechwriter pens a different script for the world stage". Washington Post . Retrieved September 24, 2013 .
  20. ^ "White House Profile: Ben Rhodes" . Retrieved September 23, 2013 .
  21. ^ Samuels, David (May 5, 2016). "The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama's Foreign-Policy Guru". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved January 15, 2019 .
  22. ^ Samuels, David (May 5, 2016). "The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama's Foreign-Policy Guru". The New York Times Magazine. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved November 30, 2016 .
  23. ^ "Who Wrote Obama's Cairo Speech?". June 5, 2009.
  24. ^ De Young, Karen (November 16, 2016). "How Obama's Trip to Havana finally ended the cold war". Washington Post . Retrieved January 15, 2019 .
  25. ^ Davis, Julie Hirschfeld; Baker, Peter (August 13, 2015). "A Secretive Path to Raising U.S. Flag in Cuba". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved November 30, 2016 .
  26. ^ Rhodes, Ben (October 12, 2018). "A Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership". The Atlantic . Retrieved January 15, 2019 .
  27. ^ "National Security Action — WHO WE ARE". National Security Action . Retrieved January 15, 2019 .
  28. ^ a b "A Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership". The Atlantic. October 12, 2018.
  29. ^ "When Will Obama Aides Come Clean About U.S.-Saudi War Crimes?". In These Times. October 22, 2018.
  30. ^ "How the NYT Magazine botched its story on Iran & Ben Rhodes". POLITICO Magazine . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  31. ^ Lozada, Carlos (May 6, 2016). "Why the Ben Rhodes profile in the New York Times Magazine is just gross". Washington Post . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  32. ^ Levitz, Eric (May 10, 2016). "10 Problems With That New York Times Magazine Profile of White House Aide Ben Rhodes". New York Inteligencer . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  33. ^ "Ben Rhodes: 40 Under 40". TIME. October 14, 2010 . Retrieved April 9, 2012 .
  34. ^ "Ben Rhodes". Fortune. October 9, 2014 . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  35. ^ "The Leading Global Thinkers of 2015 - Foreign Policy". . Retrieved December 10, 2018 .
  36. ^ Jack Shafer (March 18, 2013). "Beat sweetener: The Benjamin J. Rhodes edition". . Retrieved May 17, 2016 .
  37. ^ Julian Borger (January 13, 2017). "Ben Rhodes: 'Obama has a serenity that I don't. I get more exercised ' ". The Guardian . Retrieved February 17, 2018 .

External links [ edit ]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ben Rhodes.
Office Name Term Office Name Term
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel 2009–10 National Security Advisor James L. Jones 2009–10
Pete Rouse 2010–11 Thomas E. Donilon 2010–13
William M. Daley 2011–12 Susan Rice 2013–17
Jack Lew 2012–13 Deputy National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon 2009–10
Denis McDonough 2013–17 Denis McDonough 2010–13
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Mona Sutphen 2009–11 Tony Blinken 2013–14
Nancy-Ann DeParle 2011–13 Avril Haines 2015–17
Rob Nabors 2013–15 Dep. National Security Advisor, Homeland Security John O. Brennan 2009–13
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Jim Messina 2009–11 Lisa Monaco 2013–17
Alyssa Mastromonaco 2011–14 Dep. National Security Advisor, Iraq and Afghanistan Douglas Lute 2009–13
Anita Decker Breckenridge 2014–17 Dep. National Security Advisor, Strategic Comm. Ben Rhodes 2009–17
White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning Mark B. Childress 2012–14 Dep. National Security Advisor, Chief of Staff Mark Lippert 2009
Kristie Canegallo 2014–17 Denis McDonough 2009–10
Counselor to the President Pete Rouse 2011–13 Brooke D. Anderson 2011–12
John Podesta 2014–15 White House Communications Director Ellen Moran 2009
Senior Advisor to the President David Axelrod 2009–11 Anita Dunn 2009
David Plouffe 2011–13 Daniel Pfeiffer 2009–13
Daniel Pfeiffer 2013–15 Jennifer Palmieri 2013–15
Shailagh Murray 2015–17 Jen Psaki 2015–17
Senior Advisor to the President Pete Rouse 2009–10 Deputy White House Communications Director Jen Psaki 2009–11
Brian Deese 2015–17 Jennifer Palmieri 2011–14
Senior Advisor to the President and Valerie Jarrett 2009–17 Amy Brundage 2014–16
Assistant to the President for Liz Allen 2016–17
Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs 2009–11
Director, Public Engagement Tina Tchen 2009–11 Jay Carney 2011–13
Jon Carson 2011–13 Josh Earnest 2013–17
Paulette L. Aniskoff 2013–17 Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton 2009–11
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Muñoz 2009–12 Josh Earnest 2011–13
David Agnew 2012–14 Eric Schultz 2014–17
Jerry Abramson 2014–17 Director of Special Projects Stephanie Cutter 2010–11
Director, National Economic Council Lawrence Summers 2009–10 Director, Speechwriting Jon Favreau 2009–13
Gene Sperling 2011–14 Cody Keenan 2013–17
Jeffrey Zients 2014–17 Director, Digital Strategy Macon Phillips 2009–13
Chair, Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer 2009–10 Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman 2015–17
Austan Goolsbee 2010–13 Director, Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro 2009–11
Jason Furman 2013–17 Rob Nabors 2011–13
Chair, Economic Recovery Advisory Board Paul Volcker 2009–11 Katie Beirne Fallon 2013–16
Chair, Council on Jobs and Competitiveness Jeff Immelt 2011–13 Miguel Rodriguez 2016
Director, Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes 2009–12 Amy Rosenbaum 2016–17
Cecilia Muñoz 2012–17 Director, Political Affairs Patrick Gaspard 2009–11
Director, Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois 2009–13 David Simas 2014–17
Melissa Rogers 2013–17 Director, Presidential Personnel Nancy Hogan 2009–13
Director, Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle 2009–11 Johnathan D. McBride 2013–14
Director, Office of National AIDS Policy Jeffrey Crowley 2009–11 Valerie E. Green 2014–15
Grant N. Colfax 2011–13 Rodin A. Mehrbani 2016–17
Douglas M. Brooks 2013–17 White House Staff Secretary Lisa Brown 2009–11
Director, Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrión Jr. 2009–10 Rajesh De 2011–12
Racquel S. Russell 2010–14 Douglas Kramer 2012–13
Roy Austin Jr. 2014–17 Joani Walsh 2014–17
Director, Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner 2009–11 Director, Management and Administration Bradley J. Kiley 2009–11
White House Counsel Greg Craig 2009–10 Katy A. Kale 2011–15
Bob Bauer 2010–11 Maju S. Varghese 2016–17
Kathryn Ruemmler 2011–14 Director, Scheduling and Advance Alyssa Mastromonaco 2009–11
Neil Eggleston 2014–17 Danielle Crutchfield 2011–14
White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu 2009–13 Chase Cushman 2014–17
Danielle C. Gray 2013–14 Director, White House Information Technology David Recordon 2015–17
Broderick D. Johnson 2014–17 Director, Office of Administration Cameron Moody 2009–11
Personal Aide to the President Reggie Love 2009–11 Beth Jones 2011–15
Brian Mosteller 2011–12 Cathy Solomon 2015–17
Marvin D. Nicholson 2012–17 Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren 2009–17
Director, Oval Office Operations Brian Mosteller 2012–17 Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra 2009–12
Personal Secretary to the President Katie Johnson 2009–11 Todd Park 2012–14
Anita Decker Breckenridge 2011–14 Megan Smith 2014–17
Ferial Govashiri 2014–17 Director, Office of Management and Budget Peter R. Orszag 2009–10
Chief of Staff to the First Lady Jackie Norris 2009 Jack Lew 2010–12
Susan Sher 2009–11 Jeffrey Zients 2012–13
Tina Tchen 2011–17 Sylvia Mathews Burwell 2013–14
White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers 2009–10 Brian Deese 2014
Julianna Smoot 2010–11 Shaun Donovan 2014–17
Jeremy Bernard 2011–15 Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra 2009–11
Deesha Dyer 2015–17 Steven VanRoekel 2011–14
Chief of Staff to the Vice President Ron Klain 2009–11 Tony Scott 2015–17
Bruce Reed 2011–13 United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk 2009–13
Steve Ricchetti 2013–17 Michael Froman 2013–17
White House Chief Usher Stephen W. Rochon 2009–11 Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske 2009–14
Angella Reid 2011–17 Michael Botticelli 2014–17
Director, White House Military Office George Mulligan 2009–13 Chair, Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley 2009–14
Emmett Beliveau 2013–15 Michael Boots 2014–15
Dabney Kern 2016–17 Christy Goldfuss 2015–17