Pre-Monday DeLong Smackdown: On Hayek, Hobbes, Smith (Adam), and Smith (Noah)

Live from the Roasterie: Yes. Reading David Samuels in The New York Times is like drinking bilgewater. Why do you ask?

Matt Yglesias: The Raging Controversy Over a Profile of Ben Rhodes, Explained: "What does [David] Samuels get wrong?...

...Virtually everything. For starters, neither Obama's foreign policy in general nor the Iran deal in particular is especially popular. So if you, like Samuels, believe Obama's approach to these issues has been bad, there is genuinely nothing to explain about his communications strategy.

Secondarily, the core allegation that the American people have been mislead about the timing of Obama's interest in diplomacy with Iran is ridiculous. Obama's desire to do a deal with Iran was a prominent subject of the 2008 political campaign, and the not-very-obscure figure of Hillary Clinton has bragged about her role.... Samuels doesn't even understand what Somanader told him about Laura Rozen's Twitter feed, portraying her as saying that Rozen would reliably retweet whatever the White House wanted when in fact she's saying she relied upon Rozen's comprehensive retweeting of deal-related scuttlebutt to stay on top of the news. The portrayal of Goldberg as a White House cat's paw appears to be grounded in some kind of beef between Goldberg and Samuels's wife.

Last but by no means least, Samuels... [narrative] is strategically designed to create the impression that there are some major technical flaws with the deal that real, veteran experts would know about. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. Arms control experts were so unanimous in support of a deal that the president of a group formed to oppose diplomacy with Iran ended up resigning to support the deal.... Rhodes was able to create the impression of a firm consensus in the arms control community because there really was a consensus.

Yet despite its significant flaws, the story is a pretty effective hit on the Obama administration.... Rhodes is quoted... as castigating the entire media... and the entire world of foreign policy analysis ('the Blob') in extremely broad-brush terms that alienate all possible allies. Since the substance... is to cast aspersions on White House... coordinated media responses to critics, the White House seems to have been shy about mounting a coordinated response.... Consequently... even critics of Samuels's story have tended to defend the honor of Goldberg or Rozen or the think tank world rather than Rhodes himself....