Van Jones resigns

… with a strong, fighting statement (below).  Jones seems to have been snookered by the Truthers (in which he had company on the right), but some of what he said wasn’t really defensible.   The time will come to fight the scalp-hunters, but that time will be when we have what lawyers call “better facts.”

There’s an important general lesson here:  If you want to say batsh*t-crazy stuff and still be treated as a respectable participant in the national debate, you’d better be a Republican.  Suggesting that President Bush invited the 9/11 attacks in order to start a war is really no crazier than suggesting that President Obama wants to let terrorists loose in the United States, or that he plans to kill old people and disabled children, or that there’s something sinister about his encouraging schoolkids to study hard.

Van Jones Resigns as Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality

WASHINGTON, DC “ Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality resigned today.  Below is the text of his resignation letter, sent to Chair Nancy Sutley: “I am resigning my post at the Council on Environmental Quality, effective today. On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide. I have been inundated with calls – from across the political spectrum – urging me to “stay and fight.” But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future. It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement. I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.

Comments

  1. Prup (aka Jim Benton says

    All in all, the best result, despite the fact that Beck wil be cackling and prancing as he holds up the scalp he'll claim. But one of the subtler but stringer arguments we have against the current "Joe the Plumberization" of the Republican Party is our record of dumping our crazies, crooks, and scandal-magnets. Spitzer is gone, Vitter is running for reelection. Blago is gone and Sanford still fights on, and we only got rid of Palin because of her boredom with the job. Nobody defended Jefferson (and, if we're lucky, we might get rid of the Senator from my natal state, if the Hudson County scandals spread).

    Jones was an embarrassment, and a mistake from the beginning. (That style doesn't do much to calm much of our side, and unnecessarily scares the others, and I don't think whatever he brought to the table was worth his liabilities.

  2. IanG says

    "If you want to say batsh*t-crazy stuff and still be treated as a respectable participant in the national debate, you’d better be a Republican."

    Wow, it is amazing how quickly people forget the timeline of an event, even one as important as the attacks on September the 11th.

    At the time Van Jones signed the petition (~Oct,2004?) there were many questions being raised about how the investigation was being conducted as the national press covered White House attempts to hinder and delay the investigation. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/02/politics/02PANE…. There were numerous complaints about potential conflicts of interests from both inside and outside the commission, raising questions about how far the White House was going to limit the political damage from the investigations.

    If you actually read the petition, the questions raised at the time Van Jones signed it were not unreasonable when viewed in context of what was known at that point in time, and had not been addressed substantively or openly in the media at the time he signed it. The technical rebuttals (which many people focus on now) weren't really on the mainstream media's radar until the Popular Mechanics article came out, nearly five months after the questions were raised in the petition http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/milita…. Clearly some of the questions in the petition dealing with accountability for the handling of the intelligence that was available from sources like counter-terrorism czar Richard Clark still could be raised today.

    Unless you believe Van Jones had a way to see into the future, there was nothing "batsh*t-crazy" about signing that particular petition in 2004. Stop doing Glen Beck's job for him and save the vilification for the people who deserve it.

  3. Kurt Mudgeon says

    The so-called derogatory remarks were not the reason he was thrown under the bus; it was the cover story. "You'd better be a Republican" is either hopelessly naive, or an echo of White House spin.

  4. Barry says

    "The time will come to fight the scalp-hunters, but that time will be when we have what lawyers call “better facts.”"

    Incorrect; that time has already come. In a world where the GOP can get away with the 'death panels' lie, it's long past time to take some heads.

  5. says

    "but some of what he said wasn’t really defensible. The time will come to fight the scalp-hunters, but that time will be when we have what lawyers call 'better facts'."

    Democrats and Republicans share only two salient features in common in my experience: they both fight Democrats all the time and would never make common cause with one.

    Republicans defend war criminals.

    Democrats only defend perfect and spotless Democrats, and not even then, generally.

    You, sir, are the living proof of that.

    And the reason that they have continually won for 29 years, and why Democrats remain Washington DC's number one invertebrate species.

  6. says

    While I'll admit Glenn Beck stepped up his attacks on Jones because Jones' organization Color of Change has caused Beck to lose more than 50 advertisers, I think the real impetus behind the calls for Jones' ouster was racism. And just as President Clinton cut loose Jocelyn Elders, President Obama caved to not-very-much pressure & dumped Jones. It's shameful. Both got fired for telling the truth while black. The fact is that if any Administration wants to hire effective black personnel, they're going to have to accept the fact that effective black leaders speak truth to power in a way that some white people don't dare. I'm white & I seldom describe Republicans as assholes, but I don't disagree with the sentiment. The President was both callous & gutless in accepting Jones' resignation.

    The Constant Weader at http://www.RealityChex.com

  7. Mary says

    DAMN Barak Obama et al for not vetting this man fully, or for vetting him and appointing him anyway.

    They have damaged the Democratic Party permanently, for this arrogance.

    Watch the polls on Independents. It's going to get much worse.

  8. says

    "some of what he said wasn’t really defensible"

    Like what? He signed a letter that raises many questions, some quite legitimate to consider. Is that the problem? What else?

    Loads of people in the Obama Administration should quit under this saying "not really defensible" standard. People that matter sometimes do that. The alternative is weakwilled pablum. Is his administration to be only stocked with them?

    What "better facts" do we need before we cry foul? This guy — as a Gawker piece notes — was so radical that:

    Meg Whitman, as in former eBay CEO and wealthy Republican California gubernatorial candidate and John McCain advisor Meg Whitman, [was led] to proclaim herself "a huge fan of Van Jones.

    Come on. The guy was called a "commie" … we are supposed to take this seriously? To let the likes of Beck be encouraged? How "reality based" is that?

  9. says

    Is there any issue or person on earth that Obama will actually get his princely hands dirty fighting for? We've waited 8 months for signs of the leadership he campaigned on. The arguments against Jones were as specious as anything that ever dribbled from Beck's mouth. I am disappointed so many of the commentators here think they had merit, let alone enough merit to oust Jones from his position.

    After 8 months, what do we have to show with Obama in office, other than ending Bush era atrocities? (Which is not nothing, but also not what we had reason to settle for.)

    Little of the promised transparency, and that apparently only because of pressure by outside groups

    Next to nothing on investigating, let alone prosecuting, Bush era crimes.

    He has invoked Bush era arguments for executive power.

    Despite all his fine words when he was seeking votes, nothing for the gay community that supported him.

    Bending over backwards to assist the oligarchy. No transparency there, either.

    We're still waiting on health care – but certainly no leadership to this point. We don't even know what he wants yet – 8 months into his presidency. And this is a leader?

    Sotomayor was a decent choice – but he didn't campaign on Supreme Court nominees.

    Better than McCain? You bettcha.

    Leader quality material now that we need one? Doesn't look that way.

  10. says

    Yes, of course we must purge from our ranks everyone who displeases Glenn Beck by having once considered the possibility that the Bush administration was less than entirely forthcoming about 9/11, a notion that no sensible liberal could possibly defend.

    Then and only then will victory be ours!

  11. Liz says

    If you want to say batsh*t-crazy stuff and still be treated as a respectable participant in the national debate, you’d better be a Republican.

    Uh, yeah, and if you want to drown a young woman, cover it up and remain a United States Senator for 40 more years you better be a Democrat.

    Rather odd they let Jones go, he only made records praising a cop-killer, never having killed a cop personally.

    Snookered? LOL!!! How come there's no record of him ever complaining about his name on the petition until now? There's overwhelming proof that he reaffirmed his Trutherism time and time again, proof which is conspicuously absent from this post.

    Just keep this in mind: Public officials rarely resign just to "avoid becoming a distraction." They only say stuff like that when someone has the goods on them and they can't refute the evidence. Van Jones could have cleared his name in a few sentences, but he simply couldn't.

  12. Brett Bellmore says

    "Is there any issue or person on earth that Obama will actually get his princely hands dirty fighting for? "

    Do I really have to point out that there is, manifestly, one such person? Obama himself. There being any others would be out of character for a politician.

  13. Mark Kleiman says

    “Is there any issue or person on earth that Obama will actually get his princely hands dirty fighting for?"

    Sonia Sotomayor. She was subjected to much worse treatment than Jones was – pilloried for months on end as a "racist" – Obama stood firm, and the nomination sailed through, albeit with 80% of the Republicans in the Senate voting now. Beck's next intended scalp is Cass Sunstein. Bad choice.

    We just suffered through eight years of a President who refused to change his mind in the presence of new facts. Some may regret the passing of that era, but I'm not among them.

  14. says

    "We just suffered through eight years of a President who refused to change his mind in the presence of new facts."

    That's nice, but how does this apply here? What "new facts" warranted supporting his dismissal? Did Obama not know that he was an activist in the 1990s? That his comments at times had an edge to them? Is it the 9/11 thing? Which many families of the victims signed on to as well?

    "pilloried for months on end"

    Souter resigned in May. Does three months now mean "months on end?" So, he stuck with a Supreme Court nominee based on criticism arising from a ruling that four justices agreed with as to its result and some speeches while a former head of the FBI, the current DA of Manhattan, and such was on her side. He is not a total weenie. Seriously, you know this sounds sorta lame, right?

  15. says

    To those who think that Jones was disqualified because he distrusted Bush 'excessively' – where were you on Iraq? On torture when it first became an issue? It seems to me the only reason anyone should take your tut-tutting seriously on Jones is if you were RIGHT on Iraq and WMDs, and RIGHT about torture. If you were wrong, then at most you can accuse Jones of being wrong on an important issue, just as you were. Only your errors helped perpetuate deaths. Are you disqualified from holding a responsible position?

    Or is the only reason you are qualified is because you did not sign a petition, sticking your neck out. These are honest questions – I have no idea what your answers will be.

    But I have a cynical guess….

  16. kk says

    Really can't believe that a lot of Americans are so blind or naive!

    why should someone be called unrespectable, just because he's asking to know the truth that SO MANY PEOPLE already know:

    that 911 was an inside job… cmon, can't you still accept this thing? how much time do you need more? That' irritating and painful to accept,

    BUT that's the truth, and you won't move a step forward untill you can accept it!

    And how can you talk about socialism and communism describing the Obama admin:

    you're being fooled into believing lies by neocon preachers,

    open your eyes and start to dig the REAL facts…

    Obama is just playing the game of big bankers lobby, he's spreading the bank debts to the people,

    and that's not really communism or call it how you like it, that's really the opposite!!!

  17. kk says

    Really can't believe that a lot of Americans are so blind or naive!

    why should someone be called unrespectable, just because he's asking to know the truth that SO MANY PEOPLE already know:

    that 911 was an inside job… cmon, can't you still accept this thing? how much time do you need more?

    That's irritating and painful to accept, I know, BUT that's the truth, and you won't move a step forward untill you can accept it!

    And how can you talk about socialism and communism describing the Obama admin:

    you're being fooled into believing lies by neocon preachers, open your eyes and start to dig the REAL facts…

    Obama is just playing the game of big bankers lobby, he's spreading the bank debts to the people,

    he won't reform the health system, just making promises that he won't maintain…

    and that's not really communism or call it how you like it, that's the opposite!!!

    He's playing the game of the bigbankboys, masked by the revolutionary democratic black jesus.

    And that's the reason he should be criticized by the people who voted him, not because he's bringing communism to US!

  18. Gus says

    Sure Obama supported Sotomayor. I grant you that. But she was virtually guaranteed approval after she ran through the hoops of hypocrisy put up by the opposition. As I remember – and I may be wrong – there were longish periods of silence as well on his part, even though this issue was a major media event that would have given him many opportunities to bash the right wing where it hurt.

    The guy might be a good president if the Republicans were the party of Goldwater, let alone the old Republican Party, but when it is run by nutters and worse, Machiavelli is a better guide to dealing with them than Emily Post.

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