Over the course of 2012, I also saw my name pop up with increasing frequency in right-wing media, cast as Obama’s political hack on the NSC. Early in the administration, I’d become a target for occasional right-wing ridicule for a few reasons: (1) I worked for Barack Obama; (2) I wrote the Cairo speech; (3) I received a master’s degree in fiction writing from New York University when I was twenty-four years old. The MFA alone was enough to make me a minor villain: “Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Failed Fiction Writer…” One time, in 2009, I was surprised to find a colleague of mine—a kind, soft-spoken young woman named Cindy Chang—sobbing at her desk because she was so upset by one of these pieces. “How can they say these things about you?” she cried. I told her not to worry, I was proud of my enemies. Then I went into my office, closed the door, and felt a fluttering in my stomach—reading the piece, unsettled by how unhinged it was, by how much the person who wrote it seemed to hate me.
From The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes.