James Jones as National Security Advisor?
Two sources close to the Obama transition team tell CNN retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones has emerged as President-elect’s leading choice to become national security adviser in the White House.
The sources said Jones has been given the impression by the President-elect that the job is his if he wants it. But the officials said there are still private discussions underway and no final decision has been made. The discussions are focused on precisely how much power Jones will have in the staff job since he is used to being in a command role. Among his many posts, Jones served for several years as the operational commander for NATO.
In the third and final presidential debate, Obama noted that he deeply values advice from Jones, who has four decades of military service.
One person close to the transition noted Jones is a bipartisan figure who has warm relationships with both current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who may stay on the job for at least a brief period, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is now on track to be nominated as Secretary of State after Thanksgiving.
I’ll demur on commenting on the merits of my boss’ boss for the job. I will, however, note that the chatter thus far on Memeorandum is quite positive.
Joe Klein (TIME): “General Jones is universally respected. He refused a series of major positions offered by the Bush Administration, presumably because he opposed the policies he would have been expected to implement. He did agree to study the security situations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Bush Administration, and came back with reports that were embarrassingly candid. If appointed, he–not David Petraeus–will be the most important (former) general in the Obama Administration, which will help tilt power back toward the President.”
Spencer Ackerman (Washington Independent): “If so, it would be a good choice. […] Also, Jones would be reflective of two huge Obama priorities. First, Afghanistan. As NATO Commander, Jones ceaselessly lobbied the European allies for greater assistance in the Afghanistan war. Second, energy security. Jones is widely known to be an advocate of alternative energy sources, and, as Politico notes, chairs an energy task force for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And of course there’s the good optics of such a well-respected general being Obama’s closest White House aide on foreign policy.”
I’ll be interested to see the reaction from the Right; thus far, there’s been none. [UPDATE: Tom Maguire‘s on board.]
As an aside, I’m always amused by the use of obviously outdated file photos. Jones retired from the Marine Corps two years ago and Michael Hayden retired from the Air Force over the summer. Yet virtually every story about them shows them in uniform.
Aside #2: So long as I can recall, the informal title of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has been National Security Advisor. Over the last couple of days, however, I’m mostly seeing it spelled Adviser. Odd.
Aside #3: There have been several jokes about the name “Jim Jones” and “James Jones,” noting other famous people with those names, but none that I’m seen invoking the Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame. This is truly disappointing, given all the “drinking the Kool Aid” jokes we’ve heard about Obama.