Monday, September 7, 2009

Van Jones' Resignation

I was on vacation camping when this story first broke so please excuse me for my Johnny-come-latelyness:

White House environmental adviser Van Jones resigned late Saturday after a simmering controversy over his past statements and activism erupted into calls for his ouster from Republican leaders on Friday.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Sunday explained the resignation on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," saying, "Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual." The president does not endorse Jones's past statements and actions, "but he thanks him for his service," Gibbs said.

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter, said Jones's past was not studied as intensively as other advisers because of his relatively low rank.

Jones's position did not require Senate confirmation, so he avoided the kind of vetting Cabinet officials were subjected to. In addition, as an adviser to the Council on Environmental Quality, rather than to Obama directly, his past was not reviewed to the same degree as the more senior "assistants to the president" and other top advisers inside the West Wing.

As far as I've been able to tell, Jones was a pretty innocuous figure within the Obama administration. He was fairly well known and popular within the environmentalist and activist communities but aside from Glenn Beck's hysterical rantings performed as payback for a boycott of his show that Jones had nothing to do with he hasn't had a very high profile but why would we expect that from a Green Jobs/environmental advisor anyway?

And while enemies of this White House like Beck will claim that their opposition to Jones comes from his "radical, socialist" political views (his admission at one point to using communist protest tactics being the most egregious for the wingnuts) it seems to me that the main reason he had to leave the Obama administration is his having signed a 911Truth.org petition in 2004 questioning whether Bush administration officials had prior knowledge of those attacks and chose to allow them for military/political reasons.

Now I don't know if I've ever addressed this theory about the 9/11 attacks here so let me just say this about that: As with everything else in this universe, I can't say for sure that the Bush administration didn't have prior knowledge of this horrific event. The 9/11 Truth Commission's report was woefully inadequate and full of holes and unanswered questions. Having said that however I've always believed in a universe of infinite possibilities, but I also try to make most decisions in my life according to the science of probability and I'd have to say that the probability of this whole conspiracy being true is really pretty damn small:

So yes, the Bush administration could have known about and/or had something to do with the 9/11 attacks although I highly doubt it for a myriad of reasons I won't enumerate here but the larger point as far as Jones is concerned is this: Even if you do believe this to a much greater extent than I ever could you should never, ever state so publicly and still expect to have a career in politics afterwards. The Truther movement is just too damn crazy in their convictions and if you throw in with them you'll appear a disreputable fool by association and other things you say and do will be discredited.

And that's what happened: Jones, while a fairly intelligent and capable fellow, made several mistakes in his past but it was his association with the Truthers that the mainstream media and thus the American public just couldn't get past. It's also too bad because I think that he could have done some good things for this country as an environmental advisor to the White House. So expect the usual round of right-wing crowing about "One down, ____ to go!" and the like until they latch on to the next outrage du jour. And they soon will, of course.

[Update: The piece "Who is Van Jones?" at Gawker lays out the exact timeline and tactics the right followed to destroy Jones' career at the White House. Here's a taste:
So here we have a radical youth turned respectable liberal. Respectable enough to be on Time magazine listicles and win World Economic Forum prizes and everything. Respectable enough for Tom Friedman to profile him. And The New Yorker. Respectable enough for Meg Whitman, as in former eBay CEO and wealthy Republican California gubernatorial candidate and John McCain advisor Meg Whitman, to proclaim herself "a huge fan of Van Jones."

And for both his activism and his charm he was rewarded with a White House job with the Council on Environmental Quality. He was tasked with making sure stimulus money for green jobs actually went to green jobs. And he's a great person to have in this administration—he is a genuine environmentalist and the only special interest he's beholden to is poor people. He is the sort of person we were all praying Obama would bring with him to DC, instead of Larry Summers.

And that is one of the reasons he is now being ritually and savagely demonized.
If you want a better understanding of this story beyond my own commentary I highly encourage you to read the rest of the piece. It disturbs me that the political right is able to influence White House hiring policies just by having the loudest and angriest voice but here's proof of it. I really hope that Obama starts hammering back at these guys soon but at this point I'm not holding my breath.]


JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

Whilst I've blogged all over saying Jones should not have been hired considering his past statements, I'm torn by the fact that we all say and do things we wish we hadn't. I figured that's why you're an infrequent poster at Truth Shall Rule.

The big shame of this though is that nuts like Michelle Bachmen continue to get voted into office every two years. Hopefully Al franken can draw a electoral map that kicks her out.

Tim said...

What about the formerly card-carrying racists in the Republican party who went on to have long political careers? I guess Glenn Beck wasn't around then. Because we all know that a card-carrying racist like Beck would have called them out on it.

I'm increasingly saddened by the level of intelligence in America.

JBW said...

Are you referring to my past statements T101 or your own? Regardless, I don't comment at your site as frequently as I'd like because of time constraints more than anything else. I know that it seems like I'm online all day but I'm really not and my own posting here takes up a substantial portion of that time.

JBW said...

That's the reason I can't buy any of Beck's "I'm not a Democrat or a Republican" bipartisan schtick, Tim. I hear a lot of people on the right claiming to have been just as hard on Bush yet their current level of outrage at Obama is magnitudes higher for obviously less egregious offenses.

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

In a way, I don't blame you. Your reputation for being a cerebral blogger would suffer if some of the right wing wackos that frequent TSR started being regulars at Brain Rage. Although reading and absorbing your wit and wisdom might do them some good, their dialogue might turn off many of your regulars.

JBW said...

I'm not sure my "cerebral blogger" reputation is as solid or widespread as you make it sound T101 but I will admit that the prospect of attracting some of your uglier trolls back to my place does dampen my enthusiasm for commenting there.

I've always assumed that you must just talk shit at dozens of sites every day to rack up the number of "fans" you have spewing bile at you on a constant basis, although I do stand by my formerly professed admiration for your ability to draw in the pissed off conservative hotties (alleged by their avatars, anyway). My place is a virtual sausage-fest by comparison.

JoeBama "Truth 101" Kelly said...

I rarely visit outside what's on my link list JBW. I just have a way with people. You should have seen "Redhead." You would have dumped Sweettits in a New York minute Brother.