James Forsyth

Keeping up with the Jones

Keeping up with the Jones
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Anyone who has watched the West Wing knows there’s a cult of long hours in Washington. Obviously, there are times when people do need to work around the clock. But there are other times when a 12 hour working day is sufficient. Anyone who demonstrates this, though, riles establishment Washington. President Bush’s habit of being home for an early dinner was one of the many things that put him at odds with the DC establishment from day one. I remember a journalistic colleague who had worked in the famoulsy late-night Clinton administration moaning to me in the summer of 2001 that Bush’s insistence on being home for dinner, meant that his family expected the same of him.

So, James Jones, Obama’s national security advisor who is a former Marine general, was asking for trouble by leaving the White House at seven and even occasionally biking home for lunch. But this Marine isn’t backing down. He tells the New York Times today:

“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.” Having seen how dog-tired White House officials get and knowing how less sharp one is when one’s exhausted, Jones’s approach strikes me as sensible. But there’s no doubt that when the NSC drops the ball on something it will be blamed on Jones going home early.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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