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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Abandonment of Van Jones

The Obama Administration failed to defend Van Jones, one of its chosen "czars," over the weekend.   Van Jones was tossed overboard after a few days of controversy, as the Administration showed its about as gutless as the Clinton Administration.

Van Jones (real name: Anthony Jones) was a Yale Law School classmate of mine who had some radical progressive ideas back in the days of the Clinton Administration.   He caught my attention for no other reason than his interesting use of the square root symbol in place of the "V."  For those of you who spend most of your time on a different planet, Jones is a housing activist of some distinction who became was one of the "green czars" of the Obama Administration before his resignation being forced to fall on his own sword over the Labor Day weekend.

Van Jones and I probably disagreed on most issues, both then and now, and certainly we differ on temperament.   (We certainly disagree on cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and on 9/11; Jones is wrong on both.)  There were many people in law school -- and for that matter in most of academia, whether as professors, administrators or students -- who would demonize personally anyone who disagreed with them on any issue of consequence to them.   However, it was -- and remains -- my impression that while Van was crazy, he was no phony.   He "walked the walk," and approached issues with more genuine sincerity than many of our colleagues who did and said things because it was in vogue, or politically correct, or an efficient way to score "brownie points." 

It is the character issue that makes me think that the Obama Administration is copying the very worst of the Clinton Administration.   Van Jones' politics and statements may offend many people, but here's one thing he deserves credit for:   he gives a damn.   This is a rare quality and ought to be embraced, regardless of where you are on the political spectrum.  

His perceived offenses are minor and did not warrant his removal.   Criticism is a part of the political game, whether its Washington, D.C. or Little Rock.   The Obama Administration should have stood up for him when the political firestorm (sure to be brief) hit.   The fact that the Administration scarcely hesitated before jettisoning Jones -- and then is leaking (if Drudge is to be believed) that he didn't fill out some questionnaire -- sends an alarming message that activists and acolytes are disposable, that leaving Van Jones to twist in the wind is acceptable collateral damage.

Progressives ought to be outraged at this treatment, and should be among the first to jump ship (if they aren't already).   The Obama Administration is following in the worst footsteps of the Clinton Administration in abandoning its own ardent followers and ideological supporters.    The abandonment of Van Jones harkens to the days when Bernard Nussbaum was thrown overboard in the early Clinton Administration days.   This bodes ill for the future of Obama Nation.

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