Un-Vetted Van Jones Resigns in the Night

Van Jones testifies before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

Van Jones testifies before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

If this is true:

[Van Jones] spends a lot of time listening to speeches–the way most people download Coltrane or Mozart, he’s got Churchill and Martin Luther King on his iPod. “Ronald Reagan I admire greatly,” he once told me. “You look at what he gets away with in a speech–unbelievable. He’s able to take fairly complex prose and convey it in such a natural and conversational way that the beauty of the language and the power of the language are there, but you stay comfortable. That’s very hard to do.” via Must Read: Van Jones and the English Language « Climate Progress.

Then how is it that Van Jones ended up exercising his first amendment rights like this:

So it was not until recently that some of Mr. Jones’s past actions received broad airing, including his derogatory statements about Republicans in February and his signature on a 2004 letter suggesting that former President George W. Bush might have knowingly allowed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to occur in order to use them as a “pre-text to war.” Mr. Jones’s involvement in the 1990s with a group called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement prompted recent accusations by conservative critics that he associated with Communists. The group, according to a post-mortem written by some of its founders, was an anti-capitalist, antiwar organization committed to achieving “solidarity among all oppressed peoples” with “direct militant action.” via White House Adviser on ‘Green Jobs’ Resigns – NYTimes.com.

Jones involvement in S.T.O.R.M., is not surprising, he was fully open about his socialist experience in the 1990s spurred by events surrounding the Rodney King verdict. Many politicians have change political views, after all Ronald Reagan used to be a liberal, Robert Byrd was a Ku Klux Klansman and Max Baucus used to believe in the public option. When Jones called Republicans“assholes” for not supporting climate change, it was a poor choice of wording for an on the record speech, but apparently pretty close to the mark (He also said those not named President Obama needed to be assholes to get climate change passed).

The petition has made everything a different story. The “truther” petition he signed may have been rewritten after the signatories, including Jones, endorsed it. Jones may be a full on 9/11 truther today. Jones may disagree with the statement. Or he may have fully agreed when he signed or doesn’t agree now. It doesn’t matter at this point. The 1st amendment protects our right to freely to petition, but rights are not without consequence, and those consequences are often not fair. With this resignation we can be sure that “Green Jobs” will consistently be associated with commies, socialist plots and militants by right wing commentators. With this victory for right wing critics of the Obama administration, this nonsense is here to stay. A decisive win for Glenn Beck.

On the other side of this issue, at one point in time, the Obama Administration will need an appetite for drama when it comes to appointees and subordinates. The practice of casting applicants, appointees and staff to the wind in the face of faux or ginned up controversy works fine for a campaign machine trying to kill a multi-news cycle story and write policy papers, but a President needs the government to be properly staffed. Sometimes an explanation or earnest apology is enough, and if it isn’t then the Czar hiring practices should be distrusted by all.

Some simple internal vetting was circumvented with the President’s troubled appointments of most notably Bill Richardson, John Brennan, Timothy Geithner, Tom Daschle, Steve Rattner and now Jones. If the castaways are the people the Obama administration wanted, then they should have been fought for. The fact that some of these appointees were either completely discarded (Richardson, Daschle) or modified (Rattner, Brennan) or allowed to resign (Jones) they are expendable talent and they never should have been named.

In his resignation statement, Van Jones wrote:

“I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past.”
via Read more: Progressives decry resignation of Van Jones

If you in good conscience cannot ask political colleagues to defend you, then they aren’t your political colleagues, they are just some people who happen to hold some of the same views and get their paychecks signed by the same guy. Jones didn’t fill out the normal 63 question vetting questionaire so in essence, he was given a high profile job in the White House, with no direct policy or administrative powers and the potential for a high political cost. The responsibility for this due process falls to the Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. (During the post-election transition vetting was handled by John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse).

Jones, although hailed as a leading expert on climate change issues, was always a sub par pick for any science related position. He is a fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), an organization that is a proponent of a wide range of quackery wrapped in non peer reviewed, psuedo scientific publication and natural cure marketing. Their theories are born of the same illogical methodologies that “The Secret” is based on (and Van Jones was a Pre-Oprah adopter). I wonder if he wanted to create a panel of psi- healers to reverse the damage to humans and animals from polluted environments.

Jones’ position was mainly to work as an internal advocate for green focused employment and industries, not an investigator of new “green” industry, but his membership in IONS leads me to believe he can be had by the representatives of ineffective or inefficient “green” initiatives.. These duties related to “green jobs advocacy” advocacy should have been left to an EPA or Department of Labor deputy secretary’s portfolio, not a White House czar. Van Jones replacement, if there will be one, shouldn’t be too excited about their ability to spur significant change. Instead of advocating for new methods of industry to help save rivers, lakes and oceans, they will be primarily asked not to make waves.