There are basically two halves to the Van Jones story; they focus on the lack of vetting he received both internally (and what it says about the administration that hired him) and externally. Let’s start with the latter. At the Corner, Mark Hemingway writes:
1) Remember Chas Freeman? This is actually the second time an Obama appointee has been sunk due to a protracted controversy over past statements and the NYT didn’t write a single word about the controversy until after the fact. (Of course, Freeman had merely been nominated when he took himself out of the running for Director of National Intelligence — he wasn’t actually in the administration, unlike Van Jones.)
2) While Glenn Beck and others in the conservative commentariat had been shining a light on Jones’ radical past for a while, the revelations that finally sunk Jones were broken by Gateway Pundit and other bloggers. Not that long ago, the idea that a guy Googling in the basement would be capable of bringing down a White House staffer would have been a story in and of itself. I suppose some might think this sort of thing is old hat five years after Rathergate, but I also suspect that this aspect of the story will be largely ignored because it makes the MSM look very, very bad. Van Jones is an admitted former communist in an administration that thinks ‘vetting’ has something to do with universal health care for pets, and no one in the traditional media thought, “Hey, I wonder what we can learn if we just look this guy up on the internet?”
Perhaps because of the novelty of the event, when RatherGate broke, Time magazine made stars out of John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson and Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, dubbing them their first (and possibly last) “Blog of the Year” at the end of 2004. While it’s true that much of the legwork was initially done by “Buckhead”, a member of the Free Republic forum, and Charles Johnson’s “throbbing memo” was also vitally important in making the case against Capt. Dan the Newsman, at least Time was willing to publicly credit some of the men who helped move the story forward.
As Tom Maguire writes, don’t expect similar level of accreditation this time around:
I am green with envy – Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit, is credited in the WaPo as the guy who will bring down the Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones. Not since Captain Ed brought down the Canadian government has a blogger struck so mightily [one, two, three, almost, got ’em!].White House Says Little About Embattled Jones White House officials offered tepid support Friday for Van Jones, the administration’s embattled energy efficiency guru, who has issued two public apologies this week, one for signing a petition that questioned whether Bush administration officials “may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.”…
Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck all but declared war on Jones after a group the adviser founded in 2005, ColorofChange.org, led an advertising boycott against Beck’s show to protest his claim that Obama is a racist.
But reporters peppered the White House with questions about Jones after the blogger Gateway Pundit reported Thursday that in 2004 Jones had signed a petition circulated by the group 911Truth.org about the 9/11 attacks.
The “blogger Gateway Pundit” has a name – too bad the investigative sleuths at the WaPo, Garance something or other and Annne I forget couldn’t figure it out. Of course, Garance Whomever looked down upon righty bloggers back in her American Prospect days, so this is arguably breakthrough stuff.
It’s better to light a candle than complain about the darkness. Let’s reward good investigative journalism. I suggest finding out how much it costs to subscribe to the New York Times where you live… and then donating that amount to one of the bloggers listed above. I donated to Gateway Pundit.
Works for me — but with the decrease in revenue, how will papers like the New York Times maintain their layers and layers of editors, fact checkers and researchers?
On the other hand, perhaps flying a bit under the radar isn’t a bad thing right around now, as Ace writes:
Olby to the Kos Kids: Send Me Every Rumor or Slander You Have on Glenn Beck
This is the finger I troll for dirt with!
Incidentally, he keeps spelling “oligarchy” wrong to make fun of Glenn Beck, who attempted to create an acronym out of “oligarchy” but didn’t include a word for the “c.” Honestly, it’s my guess that word was “communist” but he abandoned it before going live. Nope: Commenters tell me the word was “czar,” and further tell me he deliberately omitted it to “set up” his liberal critics. I don’t get that last bit myself, but that’s what I’m told.
You know the persnickety dick who catches you in a typo in an online spat and then won’t shut up about it for six weeks? Yeah.
So, Olby’s trolling for “news” from the Daily Kos.
But he’s, like, a journalist and stuff.
William A. Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog adds, good luck with that, fellas:
Follow up memo to all: The reason the progressive agenda is failing is that the American people did not think they were electing a progressive agenda.
There is no conspiracy to silence progressive voices. There is no attempt “to choke the breath out of American debate” as a DailyKos blogger claims. You own CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS. You own The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The L.A. Times, the Associated Press and Reuters. You own the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.
The failure to get your message out is not the problem. The problem is your message. Your feeling of being politically lost is the result of your own myopia:
This should serve as a reminder that many conservatives are not interested in solving the country’s problems nor helping to set a public policy agenda but rather they seek to destroy and derail the Obama Administration at any cost.
You do not understand that an increasing percentage of the population thinks the Obama administration is going too far too fast, and that derailing that agenda is the first step towards solving the country’s problems. People want solutions without restructuring society.
If you refuse to accept that the progressive agenda is an unpopular agenda, then start more boycotts. Because the Glenn Beck boycott worked so well.
The other half of the Van Jones story is that very likely, his c.v. was a feature, not a bug, at the Obama administration’s equivalent of a human resources department. Jonah Goldberg explores “Van Jones & Obama’s ‘Centrism'”:
I just watched David Axelrod, the top ranking political advisor in the White House, and Robert Gibbs, the President’s spokesman on “Meet the Press” and “This Week” respectively. Neither of them was willing, even after repeated questioning, to offer a single negative word about Van Jones. Not one word. A 9/11 Truther and defender of Mumia-Abu Jamal is not radical enough for this White House to distance itself from the man in any way. Again and again, this White House has been offered chances to condemn the man’s views and they have willfully and quite deliberately refused.
Compare this to the controversy over Lani Guinier, President Clinton’s nominee to run the civil rights division at the Justice Department. When her views came to light, president Clinton disavowed her. “This has nothing to do with the political center,” Clinton insisted, “This is about my center.” Who would have guessed that there’s a case for saying Bill Clinton’s center had more intellectual integrity than Barack Obama’s?
Now, there’s reason to believe that Clinton was lying when he said he was unaware of her views when he picked her, but at least Clinton understood that he couldn’t claim to be a centrist and associate himself with her views if they became widely known.
Van Jones’ views are now widely known. And as far as anyone can tell reading the newspapers this morning or watching the Sunday shows, this White House and this President have nothing but praise for Jones and think he’s a fine, self-sacrificing, public servant who simply took one for the team.
I can’t think of a more succinct, discrete, example illuminating why Obama’s claims to centrism are a fraud.
Update: Oh and the conversation between Tom Brokaw and Tom Friedman about the lessons of Van Jones was a complete scandal. One of Friedman’s key take-aways from this whole affair is that too many people will self-censor themselves so they can get government jobs. What a tragedy that fewer people will support cop-killers and anti-American conspiracy groups because of poor Van Jones chilling effect on the culture.
Which dovetails well with the point that the often ironically named Moderate Voice blog makes. Their “what went wrong” round-up is all about tactics and expediency, and very little about Jones’ character, or the lack thereof: “Obama Advisor Van Jones Resigns: Poor Vetting By Administration.”
Not from the POV of the administration itself. Here’s Victor Davis Hanson on America’s “post-racial president”:
Well, the post-racial candidate had given us a 95% black monolithic voting pattern in the primaries against a fellow liberal candidate. Add up Rev. Wright, Father Pfleger, the clingers speech, an exasperated Bill Clinton’s assessment of “playing the race card on me”, “typical white person”, ‘wise Latina’, the Skip Gates mess, the Van Jones’ white polluters, the satraps like Gov. Patterson and Reps. Rangel and Watson reverting to blatantly racist scapegoating, and so on.
I fear that this is the most polarizing administration we have seen in matters of race since the 1920s. If those around Obama, and his supporters in Congress, had just substituted the word “black” each time they have angrily invoked the word “white”, they would have been branded abject racists.
How strange that we now learn of Van Jones’s long record of venom, but are told that he did not really mean it, and that the White House was unaware of these statements. Yet we know that Jones was selected because of, not despite, his provocations. Cf. Obama honcho Valerie Jarrett’s ecstasy: “Oooh. Van Jones, alright! So, Van Jones. We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House. We were watching him, uh, really, he’s not that old, for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland. And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that. And we have all that energy in the White House.[emphasis added]”
Update: So what’s next for Jones? Kathy Shaidle posits two upcoming career options — or possibly both:
I don’t share the optimism I’ve seen expressed elsewhere that this embarrassing situation will prevent this or future White House administrations, Democratic or Republican, from appointing similar “czars” without having to go through those pesky Senate hearings.
Some say a Senate hearing would have scotched Jones’ appointment or made Obama think twice about hiring him in the first place. For those people, I have two words:
Anyhow: where does this leave Van Jones?
Well, his widely hyped book The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, is due out September 29. Interestingly, Amazon doesn’t even have a cover image up yet for this Harper Collins title, which got a “starred review” from prestigious Publisher’s Weekly. It’ll be interesting to watch its Amazon# fluctuate today.
Jones’ resignation might help book sales, although such things are notoriously hard to predict. However, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that The Green Collar Economy won’t sell one tenth the number of copies as books by conservative authors have this year.
My second prediction: Van Jones will get his own show on AirAmerica or MSNBC by the end of this year.
Perhaps with a cameo on Glenn Beck’s show in the interim. It’ll never happen, but still, imagine the possibilities: if Van wears his Superman togs (somebody confirm: is that a Photoshop or is it real?) and Glenn wears his lederhosen, it’s television gold!
Related: “Super Van? WaPo Describes Van Jones as ‘Legendary’ and ‘Towering’ Figure of Environmental Movement.” Meanwhile, Jim Hoft presents “Comedy Gold!… Leftist MSM Reporters Beat Up On Internet After Van Jones Resigns (Video).”
I blame the Faucon Salad, myself.