As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday Night Massacre

I expected this, but it's still kind of depressing what has been done to Van Jones.

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.

People who have said extreme things at some point need to resign. I eagerly await the resignations of the entire Fox News primetime lineup and about 85-90% of the GOP caucus.

Look, Presidential advisors get too hot to handle and they resign. Happens all the time. Off the top of my head, Alberto Gonzales, Don Rumsfeld and Karl Rove. But those took forever to consummate. Jones had one bad week, with the right-wing Wurlitzer ramping up to epidemic proportions. It turns out that the worst accusation, his signing a Truther statement, had an alibi - the Truthers flat out lied to him about what the statement would say (although, a Truther comes to me with a pen and paper, and I go running in the other direction). And that was enough for the White House to call no joy. Which is kind of pathetic and shows a complete lack of loyalty.

Really, Van Jones wasn't chased out of the White House because of any statement or action. It was because of what he believes.

To understand why and how he's being demonized, we have to look at the way information and misinformation makes it way from crazy blogs to crazy pundits to crazy citizens to, suddenly, the non-crazy regular media.

The "why" is simple: he is a genuine left-wing liberal with a White House job. He is black. He used to be radical, and probably still has radical sympathies (you know, caring about poor black people and all that). He is, in other words, fucking terrifying, if you frame his story right [...]

Here is the message machine in its platonic form: Glenn Beck introduces his audience to a group Jones once belonged to called "The Apollo Alliance" on August 24th. 72 hours later a constituent is asking his (Republican) representative if this Apollo Alliance wrote the health care bill. The Rep has no idea what the guy is talking about, but the rest of the audience certainly does ("Van Jones!" they shout).

And now, here we are. His name on an old 9/11 truther petition is dredged up. An amusing clip in which he calls Republicans assholes (but explains that he, too, is an asshole) is on CBS News. Jake Tapper and Politico are on the case.

That is how a smear becomes a meme. Schoolhouse Rock, 2009 style.

People in the progressive movement identify strongly with someone like Van Jones. He delivered the keynote at Netroots Nation 2008. He had a best-selling book about the Green-Collar Economy last year. His star was rising as he combined the unconscionable problem of urban poverty with the inescapable reality of climate change to find real-world solutions to both problems. And some people on the right couldn't handle that.

Glenn Beck, smarting from losing 57 advertisers in a few weeks, took a scalp in the form of Van Jones. Fox News may have a whole other problem before too long.

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