WASHINGTON—According to White House sources, President Obama gently urged his staff Monday to try to include national security adviser Thomas Donilon a little more in the operation of the U.S. government's executive branch, having observed the senior aide is still struggling to fit in.
Noting that Donilon is "a little shy, but really a very sweet guy once you get to know him," Obama reportedly mentioned that, aside from competently tackling his primary duties of producing extensive intelligence briefings on credible threats to the security of the nation, the timid 56-year-old doesn't seem to have gotten very involved with the administration since assuming office in October 2010.
"Most of you have met Tom or at least seen him around the White House this past year and a half, but I think it would be nice if we were all mindful of including him a bit more," Obama said during a meeting with top staffers after Donilon had left to use the restroom. "He spends most of the day by himself in his office putting together dossiers on the most dangerous terrorists on the planet, and then he just sort of goes home. So maybe you can invite him to come with you the next time you all go out to lunch, you know? I'm sure he'd love to tag along."
"Don't make it too obvious, though, because then he'll know I asked you," Obama continued. "Also, I don't want you guys to think he came and talked to me about feeling left out, because he didn't."
The president, who was reportedly adamant that West Wing officials not "make a big deal out of this," went on to say that while Donilon may initially seem a little socially awkward, the adviser has been "working really hard and doing a great job" with gathering critical intelligence and coordinating with the FBI on covert operations to take down extremist sleeper cells within the United States. The president added that Donilon "actually seems to know quite a bit about sports and movies if you give him a chance and really take the time to have a conversation with him."
Obama went on to suggest the rest of the administration perhaps invite the withdrawn national security adviser along for happy hour, incorporate him into any new White House projects that could use his expertise in making crucial decisions regarding the safety of millions of American lives, or maybe just pop by his desk every now and again for a quick, friendly hello.
"I'm not saying you have to be best friends or anything, but it's just that you guys are all so comfortable around each other, and I think Tom's a little intimidated," said the president, adding that newly appointed chief of staff Jack Lew should especially remember "that it's no fun to feel out of place." "I mean, what would be the harm in telling him how cool he is when he's debriefing the Situation Room during a time of national crisis? I’m sure he would really appreciate that."
Added Obama, "I don't think I can say it enough: Tom is a really great guy with a lot to offer."
At press time, it was reported that press secretary Jay Carney had approached Donilon to ask if he was interested in joining the White House softball team, setting the nervous adviser off on a one-sided discussion of recent aerial drone surveillance of al-Qaeda positions in Pakistan from which Carney was only able to politely excuse himself 25 minutes later.