Monday, September 07, 2009
The Huffington Post
My newspaper column this week was about the difference between a political party and a political movement - and I can't say I'm happy to see the lessons of that difference being highlighted so intensely and so negatively as they are with today's news that Van Jones was forced out of the Obama administration (and let's be real clear, despite the "resignation" billing, the White House's pathetic behavior this week makes clear Jones was forced out by the higher ups). This is a serious tragedy for the progressive movement on three levels.
First and foremost, Jones was one of the only movement progressives in a policymaking position in the Obama White House. By that I mean, he was one of the only people in the White House who came out of grassroots movement work and not just political/partisan hack work, and one of the only movement progressives put in a policymaking job, and not ghettoized into a political/tactical job. Whenever I got sick to my stomach at the thought of Obama's Team of Corporate Zombies - people like Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Jim Messina - running the show, I was able to at least tell myself that hey, someone like Van Jones is at least in there somewhere fighting the good fight as he always has. No more - and that's a damn shame.
Second, Jones being forced out will not mollify the racists, crazies, tea baggers, Republican congresspeople and other assorted conservative freakshows - it will only embolden them. When lynch mobs in the Old South lynched someone, when a witchhunting band caught a target in Salem, when HUAC "proved" the supposed communism of its victims, that didn't calm them down - it only intensified their bloodlust because it made them believe they could be even more successful in the future. So if the White House's political "gurus" believe booting Jones was the safe and prudent way to mitigate right-wing hatred, then they are as short-sighted and stupid as they've proven themselves to be in mismanaging the summer's health care debate. Seriously, folks - if you think you can appease or mollify someone who takes to the public airwaves and does this, then you are as crazy as that screaming lunatic is....(Remainder.)