Gushy: Time Asks Ben Rhodes About Obama's 'Striking' Discipline, and Being 'So Charismatic'

June 11th, 2018 10:34 PM

On the last non-advertising page of the June 18 edition of Time magazine, with a cover mocking Donald Trump imagining himself as a king, Time oozed all over the majesty of Barack Obama in an "8 Questions" interview with former Obama aide Ben Rhodes. Some might joke it's also an advertisement page.Try these gushers from Karl Vick: 

TIME: Is his discipline made more striking by his successor?

BEN RHODES: He was the most disciplined person I’ve ever been around.

TIME: Is it surprising that someone so charismatic believed in institutions?

RHODES: He is at his core, an institutionalist. You make change incrementally. He, unlike any other American president, had in his DNA and family experience an understanding that institutions are the thin veneer between civilization and either anarchy or tyranny.

Time edited the gush for the print edition. Vick apparently asked this question in full: "Was he [Obama] the most disciplined person on Earth? Or does it just seem that way given who's president now?"

Then there was this cock-eyed question:  "Obama's speeches always articulated ideals. Trump's never do. Does that matter?" Rhodes replied: "Trump's speech at the U.N. sounded like the Chinese or Russian view of the world." (Time plucked that out as a text box in all capitals.)

Vick wouldn't survive a fact check on "Trump never articulates ideals." Start with his speech in Warsaw last July. But somehow, it wasn't liberal enough to contain "ideals." (In the longer Vick question, he contrasts Trump uttering "sovereignty" 41 times with ideals. Apparently, sovereignty is the opposite of an ideal.)

Naturally, Vick asked "Obama provoked a lot of racist responses. Did his staff urge him to respond?" Rhodes claimed Obama would say behind the scenes that the answer on "Black Lives Matter" was "Well, cops should stop shooting unarmed black kids." But "you knew he wasn't going to actually say that" in front of the press."He would kind of come out in this kind of gallows humor, because to him, of course, so much of this antagonism toward him was about race."

Time also asked about Trump voters with authoritarian tendencies: "In the [Rhodes] book, Obama says some U.S. voters probably felt they had more in common with Vladimir Putin than with him. Was that prescient?" Rhodes actually claimed -- just like the Obama who mangled American exceptionalism into routinely applied nationalism -- "He understood Putinism, and how the same forces were in the United States — that kind of tribal, nostalgic brand of politics that is constantly looking to the past. 'Make America great again' is not that different from Putin's nostalgia for the Soviet Union or czarist Russia."