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General Jones Is Riding His Bike, Would You Like Voicemail?

10:03 AM, May 7, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Those who were concerned that a former four-star general might not be a great fit for the job of National Security Adviser, which is essentially a staff job, will have their fears confirmed in two profiles of Jim Jones today -- one in the New York Times and the other in the Washington Post. From the Post story:

President Obama's national security adviser, James L. Jones, looks for rare opportunities to ride his bike from his McLean home to work at the White House. On occasion, he has pedaled back across the Potomac River for lunch. He tries to end his workday at 7 p.m....

Jones said he is "not used to being in the center of these things. . . . But if I'm not living up to other people's views of what the national security adviser should look like he's doing . . . like my hair is on fire all the time," so be it. "I did that in my life, a couple of generations ago, I was a gung ho major, and a gung-ho lieutenant colonel, and I sacrificed my family life for my career."

If he can reform the NSC's structure and process, he said, "then everybody can go home and have dinner with their families. Because they'll have enough depth and robustness so that we can tee up issues -- not constantly in a crisis mode."

And the New York Times makes it sound even worse:

He maintained his cool even when asked about sniping from staff members that he went biking at lunchtime and left work early, although he did, at one point, seem about to crush his coffee cup.

"I'm here by 7 o' clock in the morning, and I go home at 7, 7:30 at night; that's a fairly reasonable day if you're properly organized," he said. What about officials who pride themselves on being at the White House deep into the night?

"Congratulations," he said. "To me that means you're not organized."

Some of General Jones's critics say that his practice of keeping a schedule separate from Mr. Obama's suggests that the former four-star general and supreme commander of NATO "thinks like a principal" rather than as a member of the staff of the president of the United States.

It seems like Jones's primary goal as National Security Adviser is to get home for dinner. He doesn't want to "sacrifice his life for his career." Is this really the best and the brightest? Because it sounds like Jones was burned out before he even got to the White House.