The Collective
Monday, September 7, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

What is the likely effect of the Van Jones brouhaha? I am guessing very little. One suspects that the vast majority of people, even those who are interested in politics, will barely pay the story much heed. It isn’t like this is the first appointee to an administration to quit because of any number of reasons. This is the kind of story that will resonant only in certain circles. For example, certain hardcore supporters of the President will see this as some sort of serious defeat, while certain segments of the opposition will see it as some major victory. And yet apart from one guy occupying a specific job, it is unclear to me that much has been either won or lost.

Most people don’t pay attention to cabinet secretaries, let alone presidential advisors. Further, the degree to which Jones’ job really affected the daily lives of Americans is pretty small. And even in terms of the opposition, let’s face facts, the likelihood is that most run-of-the-mill conservatives will assume that anyone named to be “green jobs czar” is probably already a semi-nut anyway (as they assume all environmentalists are semi-nuts at best). As such, this will be dismissed as par for the course.

The only significance to me of the situation is that it is part of this broader hyberbolic activity by people like Glenn Beck, because even with some legitimate criticisms that could be made of Jones, the bottom line is that the approach to the situation has been along the same lines as the “Obama is a communist/facist”, birther, “death panels” and back-to-school speeches are indoctrination” lines of attack. We can certainly be certain that that kind of stuff will continue. But, that all was going to continue with or without Van Jones.

If there are any specific effects, I suppose they will be the following: the emboldening of Beck and the escalation of dirt-digging and counter dirt-digging.

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Filed under: Cable News, US Politics | |
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7 Responses to “The Political Significance of Van Jones”

  1. Mark Says:

    Dear Steven,
    One other continuing question is what is the White House doing about its vetting problem. It is clear that from the tax problems of some earlier people to what was clearly a problem with Jones the White House vetting has let the President down. They need to redo this or every appointment might come back to haunt them.

  2. Steven L. Taylor Says:

    I am not necessarily convinced that the vetting process is any worse for this admin that for previously ones. For example: even if take one of the more problematic example, Geithner was an appointee of the Bush administration to the NY Fed, and they didn’t find his tax problems.

    Further, there are always nominees for whom problems crop up, off the top of my head: Jim Tower for GHWB, Zoe Baird and Lani Guiner for Clinton, Linda Chavez for GWB and so forth.

    Part of the problem is that presidents appoint over 3000 persons. The odds that many of them will end up having problems is a foregone conclusion, yes?

  3. Jay Dubbs Says:

    Doesn’t this just magnify Back’s megaphone? And if so, who is happier, Democrats or Republicans?

  4. Hume's Ghost Says:

    ‘will assume that anyone named to be “green jobs czar” is probably already a semi-nut anyway (as they assume all environmentalists are semi-nuts at best)’

    This is most certainly the case. See Dave Weigel’s excellent report on the climate pseudo-skeptic movement’s efforts to define environmentalism as secret communism.

    “The only significance to me of the situation is that it is part of this broader hyberbolic activity by people like Glenn Beck”

    That’s what is significant to me. I don’t really care about Van Jones himself (since I hadn’t even heard of him until Beck started attacking him,) but I find Beck’s behavior unconscionable and think it terrible that he should be rewarded for such efforts. Plus, as I said in the other thread, I also find it troubling that a genuine grassroots type activist loses his job for stuff like this but the typical Washington inside players like Geithner can keep their jobs.

  5. Hume's Ghost Says:

    I watched Fox News this afternoon. Jack Kingston was saying the “czar” process allowed an avowed communist (Van Jones is actually a former Communist) into the government, that maybe its time to cut off the funding of Obama’s czars.

    Isn’t it great to see the Republican party - one of the two viable national parties in the USA - taking its cues from high school graduates Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity?

  6. Hume's Ghost Says:

    Oh yeah. I forgot. Friday Beck had on communist ideologue turned conservative ideologue David Horowitz to talk about how radical and extreme Obama is; how liberals/progressives have their bootheals on the necks (or maybe throats, I forget) of the poor and minorities, and that Obama wants to kill the elderly people with his health care proposal. That’s the same David Horowitz who advised Republicans to take Lenin’s advice to wipe their political opponents off the face of the planet and got endorsed by Tom DeLay and Karl Rove.

    During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party’s majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was “a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield from an experienced warrior.” In addition to DeLay’s gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz’s advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country.
    True to its title, The Art of Political War argues that “Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy’s fighting ability. … In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails.” Moreover, “Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy whenever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible.” ….
    Of course, Horowitz is not the only disillusioned leftist from the sixties. What makes him significant is that his militancy has remained constant, even as his worldview has changed. In a strange way, he remains a Leninist, right down to his appearance (balding, with a Lenin-like goatee). He even continues to offer Lenin’s words as advice. “You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate,” he explains in The Art of Political War. “You can do it only by following Lenin’s injunction: ‘In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent’s argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.’”

    Can you imagine what the reaction would be were the situtation reversed and Obama’s “brain” had endorsed a book advising Democrats to take Lenin’s advice?

  7. B. Minich Says:

    I’m happy to see a Czar fall, although it is the height of irony that this one has suspicions of being a Bolschevick (well, at least as close as you’ll find in America). Again, enough with the czars!

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