You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Long Knives For Jim Jones

Pungent line from a tough Fox News web story about the national security advisor's job performance:

One NSC staff member claimed that Jones is so forgetful that at times he appears to have Alzheimer's disease.

I'd be more skeptical about Obama insiders supposedly giving Fox material like that if there wasn't so much other anti-Jones stuff swirling around. See also Tom Ricks, who hears murmurs that Robert Gates might be in line to succeed Jones. (I find that really hard to believe, and a Gates spokesman denies it to Ricks with gusto. But such chatter--and we know Ricks has national security sources--does seem to reflect that some sort of anti-Jones campaign is still underway in Washington.)

Steve Clemons sees the rising influence of Jones' deputy, Tom Donilon. That's not shocking--Donilon is, after all, a former State Department chief of staff, and knows quite well how the foreign policy bureacracy operates. Jones, a former chief NATO commander, obviously isn't clueless about such things, but his experience is mainly on the military and not the Washington bureaucratic side. (Clemons also describes Donilon as picking up hour-to-hour crisis management from Jones, who is trying to focus on the bigger picture; in Jones's defense, that actually sounds like it could be a healthy arrangement, not necessarily a sign that Jones is checked out.)

But I also have the sense that the NSC aides with the closest personal relationship to Obama--Denis McDonough, the NSC's director of strategic communications, and Mark Lippert, NSC chief of staff and a Obama's Senate foreign policy aide --are often the last ones to talk to the president about key decisions. Jones, you may recall, had only met with Obama a handful of times before accepting the NSC job, something that's looking more and more like a problem. 

As for Donilon, I don't know him to be especially close to Obama, but he goes back more than 20 years with Joe Biden, to his 1988 (and 2008) presidential campaigns. His wife is Jill Biden's chief of staff and his brother, Mike, has worked for Biden for almost thirty years, and is now Biden's counselor.

[Fox and Clemons links via Ben Smith]

--Michael Crowley