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|Resignation brings up more red flags|
Over the Labor Day weekend, a major figure in the Obama administration was forced to resign.
'Green Jobs Czar' Van Jones tendered his resignation on Saturday at midnight amid a firestorm of controversy, especially from conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. That there has been such little coverage of this event by the media is in part due to the short news cycle and the magnitude of this issue as yet more evidence that the Obama administration is poorly managed and often lacks focus.
Why is this so important? First, Jones is also the best-selling author of "The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems." Czar Jones was to have at his disposal $60 billion (or about 7.5 percent) of the stimulus package monies to invest in clean energy and research and development into environmentally friendly technologies.
Second, Obama vowed to create 5 million "green jobs." At the center of all these plans was Czar Jones.
So what went horribly wrong?
President Obama has shown here and even with potential cabinet members that he does not know how to properly scrutinize, or vet, a person before appointing that person to a Czar position or sending them before the Senate. If Obama had suitably vetted Jones, then he would have discovered his associations and statements (which, by the way, pre-date the Obama Presidency and Glenn Beck even being vaguely aware of Jones in the first place) that almost all Americans find obnoxious and offensive.
In 2004, for example, Jones signed a petition from the group 911Truth.org that questioned whether Bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." Further, Jones had been involved with a San Francisco organization with Marxist roots called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). There were a few other items but none rising to this level.
To demonstrate how poorly the Obama administration delved into Jones' past: all of the above was on Wikipedia and available to anyone with access to a computer.
Like a well-staged tragedy, the reaction was inevitable.
Indiana Congressman Mike Pence (R) called on Jones to resign last Friday, stating, "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate."
This was followed by others, such as Missouri Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R) asking Congress to investigate Jones' "fitness" for the position, and inquiring: "Can the American people trust a senior White House official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?"
Then, on Saturday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote on his Twitter account, "Van Jones has to go." And go he did.
As a point of clarification, Jones did offer a slight justification for signing the petition that claimed the American government under George W. Bush murdered 3,000 of its civilians as a pre-text for a war in Iraq: he did not read the fine print! I have seen the organization's Web site and had no problem understanding their objectives and purpose.
But, unlike Jones, I do not have a Yale law degree. Perhaps he was absent the day they taught "read before you sign anything" in law school.
Now, to the second major point: why did President Obama let Jones hang in the wind like this? Why did he not put up some defense for Jones? He threw Van Jones under the bus faster than you can say Jeremiah Wright or William Ayers.
White House adviser David Axelrod, on NBC's "Meet the Press" claimed to have not spoken with President Obama on the issue, but did offer the following: "The political environment is rough, and so these things get magnified. But the bottom line is that he showed his commitment to the cause of creating green jobs in this country by removing himself as an issue."
Uh, OKů if you want me to pretend to believe that Axelrod had no knowledge of Jones' rapid departure, and never spoke to President Obama on the subject, then I guess you take me for a sucker.
There are at least two points that I take away from this for the long-term. One, President Obama is increasingly feeling pressure from Americans of both parties (and independents) to distance himself from radicals and a radical agenda.This is but one example. The second would include a significant pullback on his school speech (that I felt was never a momentous issue, only the distribution of political propaganda as a prelude to the speech) and his complete flip-flopping on health-care.
The fact that he can do this with such a haughty and cavalier stance is remarkable. Simply stated, most Americans do not consider it a policy-plus or a nod to diversity to have Marxists and anti-American radicals advising the President.
If Obama expects to assemble any vital legislation, he needs to delete Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as his MySpace friends and block them on his Twitter account.
Obama needs to move closer to the center on every major policy position if he hopes to effect any change.
John W. Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He also is co-director at the ULM Social Science Research Lab. He can be reached by e-mailing Sutherlin@ulm.edu.