Meet Obama's Kissingers: When political hacks take over foreign policy

He was replaced by Democratic political operative and former Fannie Mae lobbyist Tom Donilon. Mr. Donilon joined Ben Rhodes, the Obama campaign speechwriter, who in 2009 had been elevated to deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Also present was Tommy Vietor, whose entire career prior to NSC spokesman was as an Obama spinmeister—as a press aide in the 2004 Senate run, and campaign flack for the 2008 Iowa caucuses, and assistant White House press secretary. In fairness, his credentials also included getting caught on camera in 2010 pounding beers, shirtless, at a Georgetown bar. America’s foreign-policy experts at work.

Not that Mr. Obama’s first instinct is even to rely on his now overtly political NSC. This paper reported in September 2013 that as the White House struggled with the question of military intervention in Syria, it summoned all the old “Obama loyalists” for advice. They included his 2008 campaign manager ( David Plouffe ), his former press secretary ( Robert Gibbs ), a former speechwriter ( Jon Favreau ), and Mr. Vietor (who had by then left the NSC to form a political consulting group).

A serious-minded NSC, in the tumultuous aftermath of Benghazi, would have responded with a sober assessment for its president of the real and continued terror threat, and of the failings that resulted in four dead Americans. Instead we find the deputy NSA, Mr. Rhodes, crafting an internal email advising his colleagues to spin, and blame it all on an Internet video. Mr. Rhodes had no interest in advising the president on hard realities. His only interest was ensuring his boss got re-elected.