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Van Jones: Scapegoat or Judgment Error?

AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whateverRegistered User regular
edited September 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Van Jones, President Obama's selection for the non-authority position of Green Jobs Czar, handed in his resignation Sunday, stating he did not wish to divide the nation over his past when greater focus needed to be had on solving the national healthcare problems and environmental concerns.

The controversy began when Jones' advocacy group, The Color of Change, boycotted Glenn Beck's program after Beck accused Obama of racism. After that, Beck spent several programs detailing Jones' attachment to the 9/11 "Truther" movement, his statements that claimed white children were more likely to become mass murderers than black children, and his defense of convicted cop-killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The resignation, according to Jones, was of his own volition and not prompted by the Obama administration. However, John Anner, friend of Jones and former chair of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an organization Jones founded in Oakland, claims the resignation was a racially-motivated witch-hunt:

"It struck me, why go after this guy? He is a minor player, he has no power, no budget, why take him? It's because he looks like Obama and he has all those same attributes of being well-educated and he’s an electrifying speaker with an elite education . . . ."


So which is it? The administration dropping a potentially volatile firebrand to focus on more pressing matters? Conservative fear-mongering? Or something worse? Personally for myself, I think if anything the issue underscores a clear streak of poor vetting and discernment in the Obama camp. After losing several nominees to various positions due to obvious credentialing issues (such as economics advisers who hadn't paid taxes in years), the Obama administration still seems to approach their appointments with a touch of naivete and more trust than proof. Which, as much as I hate it, allows for earlier claims (on both sides) that he is unprepared for Washington politics to impart a ring of truth.

Atomika on

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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I think it's a little from Column A and Column B. The thing is that Van Jones past was so obvious that they would have to do no vetting at all to have not found out. I think they overlooked it with the idea that everyone else wouldn't care about it for a non-authority position. They put too much trust in the conservative right wing and, quite frankly, the American people. They grossly underestimated the lack of logic that most people exercise.

    Dalboz on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    We're increasingly entering an era where no one is "clean," so to speak.

    An interesting cultural shift my generation will have to deal with as we age and media become more omnipresent is the simple fact that many of us have had our lives and desires chronicled since adolescence, by choice or by circumstance. Even for older folks like Mr. Jones, it will be harder and harder to escape potential awkwardness caused by previous statements or writings.

    Does it really matter what this man's feelings about 9/11 are? Would that have any impact on his role as green jobs guy? Is the 9/11 stuff really any more outlandish than whatever other strange positions any number of relatively minor officials have probably held throughout history? Nah, probably not.

    There's a senatorial (I think) candidate in Virginia right now being criticized for some awkward-sounding statements in the undergraduate thesis he wrote some 25 years ago. Is that fair?

    I think we're rapidly entering an age where it'll be impossible to fully "vet" anyone. There will always be some awkward junk floating around that either was missed or dismissed as irrelevant, but which will be turned into a political attack. Right now we seem content to just score political points here and there, but at some point we'll have to make our peace with it as a society.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2009
    Can't it just be a case of Glenn Beck being a massive dickhead? I mean, that's the real problem.

    Maybe he didn't want any competition in the 'wackiest political beliefs' stakes.

    The Cat on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    This sounds like a uniquely American problem. Which makes it a uniquely conservative raving douchebag problem and far too many idly listening idiots.

    electricitylikesme on
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    DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy Eater Right behind you...Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    On Meet the Press this morning, Thomas Friedman brought up the point that we've entered an era where we need to teach our kids to never say anything or write anything and to be completely buttoned down because if you make one single incorrect out-of-context statement then someone somewhere will wind up finding it on the internet. Tom Brokaw added that at seminars he's done, people have asked him some strange questions, and when he asked where they heard that stuff, they respond with "Well, I read it on the internet."

    This is going to get worse. It's going to be interesting where we go from here. I think that eventually no one will be completely clean, as Dyscord said, so the line is going to have to move. When and how far that line moves is the question.

    Dalboz on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2009
    Seriously though, I figured the same people who spurred the Obama campaign's technological nous were trying to push that very line, and discovered (too late!) that most people still don't actually know what an internets is.

    I think a lot of the above posts are pretty naive, though. Young people who spend a lot of time online seem to think that everyone else their age does too, but I went to school (and university) with plenty of people my age and younger who were profoundly uncomfortable using Word, mobile phones, and electronic bus passes, and are happy to remain that way. These people aren't terribly au fait with Web 2.0 and its effect on public discourse.

    The Cat on
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    AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whatever Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I think his resignation is interesting, personally. He had no authority, and in the grand scheme of things his job was relatively unimportant. Basically, "czar" in DC-speak means "tattler" and "liason." They inform and give ideas and keep the president in the loop with whatever issue the czar is placed at. I don't listen to Beck or Limbaugh or Olbermann or Maddow, because they're all just the same kind of hamfisted partisan idiot at different ranges on the spectrum, so I find it strange that the Obama administration (or at least just Jones himself) thought that this blip on the PR radar was that big of an issue. All the more so, considering that Obama was painted as an anti-Semite, racist, and terrorist sympathizer during the campaign.

    It frames the mainstream American psyche in a way, but I do have a tough time chalking it up to racism, as some have been quick to do.

    Atomika on
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    AtomikaAtomika Live fast and get fucked or whatever Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Take this with several heaping spoonfuls of salt, but Fox is reporting that not only was Van Jones poorly vetted, he wasn't vetted at all.

    Which, if true, I have to say is questionably naive on Obama's part.

    Atomika on
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