Mentionables: Obama’s National Security Adviser

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 9:47 am

The Washington Post looks at three prospects to become Obama’s national security adviser: Susan Rice, whom readers may recall from a recent profile; Gen. Jim Jones, former NATO commander; and Jim Steinberg, former deputy national security adviser to Bill Clinton and skilled bartender.

Steinberg right now is believed — ah, the obfuscatory wonders of the passive voice! Friend to lazy and ignorant journalists worldwide — to have the inside track. And Susan Rice is believed to be young enough to be considered for a sub-cabinet-level post and then advance. But what does that really mean? Up until last week I had never heard Hillary Rodham Clinton as a short-list contender for secretary of state and had reported that it was John Kerry’s position to lose. So I’m just going to confess to you that I have no idea, largely because Obama hasn’t made these decisions yet, and it’s no use pretending otherwise.

Jones is a really interesting figure. In addition to constantantly nudging the Europeans to do more in Afghanistan as NATO commander, Jones produced an extremely thorough and well-respected report last year into the parlous condition of the Iraqi security forces. He has a reputation for bluntness, clear-eyed thinking and results that gibes well with the idea of keeping Bob Gates at the Pentagon temporarily. And Jones has no known ideological character. Plus, I can make Dipset references for the span of his tenure in the administration.

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