Good thing he doesn’t need Senate confirmation

Having written a book about Bill Clinton and some of his friends at Fannie Mae, I knew that Thomas Donilon, just announced by President Obama to replace Gen. James Jones as national security adviser, had lobbied for Fannie during the Bush II administration.

The job of national security adviser is considered a White House appointment and so doesn’t require Senate confirmation. Just as well. No one has ever accused Donilon of wrongdoing, but it wouldn’t have mattered with the economy in its current sad shape. What a wild hearing that would have been. (Oh, and when he was in private law practice, Goldman Sachs was a client.)

The 55-year-old graduate of Catholic University (’77) and the law school of the University of Virginia (’85) has worked on the political side for President Carter, for Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign, for Washington’s O’Melveny & Meyers during President Reagan’s second term, Bush I’s only term and Bush II’s second term. In between, he returned to the public sphere as a member of the Clinton-Gore transition team and from there to the State Department, where he climbed the ladder, including a stint as chief of staff to Secretary Warren Christopher.

The Fannie Mae connection came from 1999 to 2005 when he was Fannie’s senior vice president and general counsel.

When Obama was elected — Donilon had been in Biden’s camp until he dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination — Donilon went to the White House as deputy to Jones, but, unlike Jones, is known to be close to the president, and the guy who does much of the heavy lifting on the foreign-policy front.

He is about as politically connected as they come — service on the board of the Brookings Institution, his wife is chief of staff to VP Biden’s wife, Jill, his brother a partner of the Democratic strategist/speech writer Bob Shrum.

Known as a man who shuns the limelight, his visibility has just shot up by a mile.