Following the resignation of controversial "green jobs" adviser Van Jones, liberal pundits are divided over whether the White House was right to dismiss Jones before putting up a fight. The split is over the best way to preserve progressive policy initiatives. Was Jones politically radioactive and a bigger hurdle than he was worth, or will his firing embolden conservative critics to the point of hampering liberal White House policies?
- Right to Dismiss Charles M. Blow, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, was among the liberals to support Jones' departure. "Good for the prez to limit his liability. Jones was a czar (imminently replaceable)," he wrote. "Otherwise an appearance of hypocrisy." David Weigel wrote just before the firing, "He should go now, and consider giving back his salary."
Publius agreed that Jones "never should have been signed on," though he also rejected fears that the affair increased the influence of the right wing. "I don't buy the argument that the resignation will empower the Glenn Becks of the world," he wrote. "If the resignation causes them to redouble their efforts on the crazy and paranoid conspiracy front, that's potentially helpful."
- White House Should Fight "Stand with Van Jones" and "Fight Back," declares the website StandWithVan.com,
meant to organize liberals around Jones. But most liberal pundits who
think Obama should have defended Jones are not optimistic he will be
reinstated--or that the White House is much for fighting. Jesse Taylor wrote, "It's funny - I never knew what 'ceding the debate' meant until I joined the Democratic Party."
David Sirota lamented the departure of Jones, whom he called "one of the only movement progressives in a policymaking position in the Obama White House." Sirota accused White House officials who pushed out Jones of being "as short-sighted and stupid as they've proven themselves to be in mismanaging the summer's health care debate." Jones' leaving, he said, "will not mollify the racists, crazies, tea baggers, Republican congresspeople and other assorted conservative freakshows - it will only embolden them." He concluded, "the Jones announcement will inevitably create a chilling effect on the aspirations of other movement progressives."
Glenn Beck Running White House? The angriest commentators accused the White House of letting Fox News host Glenn Beck, who led the campaign against Jones, drive public debate and thus policy. Jack Turner accused the White House
of "negotiat[ing] with terrorists." He explained, "Too often, this
White House has sent the signal that it seeks common
ground and conciliation with parties interested in its total
destruction. From my point of view, negotiating with ignorance, fear,
hate and irrationality is insane."
Turner called the "lynch mob" for Van Jones "a test" of the White House's loyalty to liberal policies and voters, which he said it failed. "What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it? When will this White House realize that nothing it does will ever be acceptable to the loud-mouthed, ignorant minority? When will it learn that you cannot negotiate with terrorists??" Jesse Taylor, as always, was ready with a joke. "Remember, kids: to run the White House, just use your alcoholism to give your conspiracy theories credibility," Taylor quipped, referencing Beck. "And cry a lot."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.