Meet Irish-American Mike Donilon, 61, the second most powerful person in the White House but one who remains almost completely anonymous.
But lately the media has started to find out how important the Erased Donilon is when the chips are down and big decisions need to be made.
Every White House has its power struggles between competing staff, but this one is different. Donilon is the undisputed boss, albeit quietly behind the scenes.
His title is Senior Advisor, which could mean almost anything, but Donilon has the access, ear and confidence of President Biden like no one else on earth.
Donilon assumed this power quietly. It’s even hard to get a decent photo of him because he’s so out of touch.
There is very little of the Obama drama when Rahm Emanuel was the rampaging bull in charge, or the chaos under Trump that went through the Chiefs of Staff like disposable wipes.
At 78, Biden wants a comfort level of competence and loyalty in those around him. Overall, he has it. There have been very few leaks of this outfit, unlike the Trump administration where everyone fled like the Titanic when it fell.
Stability is a hallmark of Donilon’s modus operandi. He has known Biden for 40 years and served him for about 30 of those years.
They share very similar origins, Biden from a large Irish Catholic family from Delaware, Donilon ditto from neighboring Rhode Island.
The Washington Post reported that Donilon is “Biden’s conscience, alter ego, and shared brain.” thought?”
Donilon comes from a modest background. His grandparents were penniless emigrants from Ireland. Her mother worked as a school secretary and her father worked in product control at a local company.
He and his two brothers have certainly gone on to greater things. His brother Tom was Obama’s national security adviser while a third brother is a key adviser to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.
The London Times reported last week that more often than not Biden would accept Donilon’s assessment of a situation. “What does Mike think? Is usually a sign that a conclusion has been reached.
Donilon was the first person Biden called when he decided to run for president after watching the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017, just months after Trump took office.
Donilon is also the person who gave Biden key advice not to confuse him with Trump, to leave his Twitter blovier unchallenged, believing the American people had had enough of the loud and pompous president.
He was certainly right in that assessment.
While there are people like Chief of Staff Ron Klain and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan who have high profiles and are close to Biden, they don’t compare in terms of influence with Donilon. .
The London Times reported that insiders say the former pollster, a devout Catholic like his boss, “seems to know the president better than he knows himself.”
It is a rare ability but also a great responsibility. From what we’ve seen so far, Irishman Mike Donilon seems up to the job.
* This column first appeared in the June 2 edition of Irish Voice, sister publication of IrishCentral.