...the [National Security Council] has been by procedure and fierce tradition a rare apolitical forum, a place for the president to hear hard reality. NSC staff are foreign-policy grownups, and its meetings are barred to political henchmen.Well, now, shirtless beer drinking after work is not to be held against a man! Being a successful press aide might be; it's not a career often distinguished by men or women of high honor and personal integrity. There are exceptions who are worthy individuals, to be sure.
Or that was the case, until the Obama White House. By early March 2009, two months into this presidency, the New York Times had run a profile of David Axelrod, noting that Mr. Obama's top campaign guru and "political protector" was now "often" to be found "in the late afternoons" walking "to the Situation Room to attend some meetings of the National Security Council." President Obama's first national security adviser, former Marine General and NATO Commander Jim Jones, left after only two years following clashes with Mr. Obama's inner circle.
He was replaced by Democratic political operative and former Fannie Mae lobbyist Tom Donilon. Mr. Donilon joined Ben Rhodes, the Obama campaign speechwriter, who in 2009 had been elevated to deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Also present was Tommy Vietor, whose entire career prior to NSC spokesman was as an Obama spinmeister—as a press aide in the 2004 Senate run, and campaign flack for the 2008 Iowa caucuses, and assistant White House press secretary. In fairness, his credentials also included getting caught on camera in 2010 pounding beers, shirtless, at a Georgetown bar. America's foreign-policy experts at work.
In any case, Americans are WEIRD. It's strange to find a foreign policy team that is built around those who have learned how to do American politics for American audiences. You shouldn't expect that to work out well; and, indeed, it hasn't.
Thanks to Ms. Strassel for an interesting report.