Donilon, Blinken Join The White House Foreign Policy Staff
The Obama transition formally announced Jack Lew and Jim Steinberg as deputy secretaries of state just now. On Lew, my pal Mark Kleiman, who knows the guy, remarks, “He’s just one of those people who aren’t even tempted to cut corners, or at least that’s the way he comes across.” Interesting.
But here are two more: Tony Blinken, Joe Biden’s longtime foreign-policy alter ego, will remain in that role as national security adviser to the vice president. I’ve been lucky enough to talk with Blinken several times over the years — and everything that follows is basically a public plea for him to return my phone calls for the next four — and he’s a real first-rate mind, a progressive who views foreign-policy questions from the perspective of first-order concerns. It’s hard to know what sort of foreign-policy portfolio Biden will retain in an Obama administration right now, but Blinken is an energetic guy. How I’d love to see his interactions over the next few weeks with Cheney national-security aide John Hannah.
Finally, to answer a long-term question I’ve had: Tom Donilon will be incoming national security adviser Gen. Jim Jones’ deputy. Donilon is a really establishmentarian figure. Aide to Jimmy Carter, aide to Warren Christopher, partner at Christopher’s tony law firm. I will be totally frank with you and confess that I do not know what his actual positions on stuff are. I see from Al Kamen that his wife is now a chief aide to Jill Biden. That’s what I’ve got for you. Epic fail.