Van-ished? Hardly.


No longer tied to his desk with a sock in his mouth, Van is now freed to do what he does best: inspire and energize groups around the country. Student groups and labor groups and small business groups and middle class Americans everywhere who are losing jobs and losing homes and losing hope. He’s free to push with all his might and insight for the vision tens of millions of Americans tirelessly worked for during the presidential campaign — the vision they voted for in November — but which is now in danger of being drowned in the fetid political swamps of Washington.
Arianna Huffington – “Thank You Glenn Beck

Though I take offense when outsiders dump on my native home town city — yes, it’s a swamp, naturally, but it’s still my home — I have to say, I’m with Arianna on “what’s next” for Van Jones, now a former special advisor for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. Van Jones, I would say, slipped into the light over the Labor Day weekend resigning from his post, and more than likely is leaving the institutional green walls of gov’ment a more prominent man than when he took the job.

After several days of YouTube mania featuring a clip of Van Jones calling Republicans and himself “*ssholes” when it comes to why Republicans can move things even when they don’t have the majority; followed up with a petition Jones signed accusing the Bush administration of “allowing” the 9/11 attacks to happen; followed by the apologies, the clarifications, the real story, and several fellow signers of the petition who said they were duped on the contents of the petition….anyway, here we are.

In fact, I’m not sure Glenn Beck should get all the credit for the resignation. The pace of community organizing vs. the pace of gov’ment paper pushing can make an active, innovative and productive mind a terrible thing to waste.

This is not to say government jobs are a drag. I think it depends on which branch you work and with whom you work with. But there is a certain cultural pace government has that takes adjusting to especially if you’re coming into it from years and years in the private or even nonprofit sectors. As one of my wise friends who knows this stuff told me, the way to do your best work in government and feel good about it, is to not see the job as a permanent gig.

During the 2008 elections, I added Van Jones to my Community Organizer’s Hall of Fame. I was happy when Mr. Jones came to Washington. Until recently, we’ve really seen very little of him.

It’s too bad these are the circumstances from which he emerges from the rabbit hole. Sure, sure, the hot seat was a payback smack from Glenn Beck’s fan base for the advertsing boycott of Glenn Beck’s Fox show by colorofchange.org (co-founded by Van Jones) after Beck called the President of the United States a “racist,” etc. When a big pile of dollars is taken off somebody’s plate at your request, you gotta expect a little pay back at some point. Somebody’s going to put a YouTube hit on you or your kin. It’s the “Gossip Girl” rule. So watch yourself in front of a hot mic.

I’m not going to make any predictions, but let’s just say I’ll try to finish reading The Count of Monte Cristo before the year’s out. Haven’t seen “Shawshank Redemption” in a while.

Sure Jones’ resignation is an “ouch” to progressive minds and hearts who have the desire and will to serve our country and make positive change. It sends a chill of powerlessness down your back, knee jerk reactions echoing McCarthyism, and fertilizes an overgrown wilderness of spin where truth has no place in a land of “fair and balanced.”

“If they don’t threaten to kill you, kid, you ain’t getting to them.”
Paul Newman to Robert Redford in “The Sting”

Van has given progressives early warnings about holding on to the “David/Goliath” mentality past its time. “We get good with the slingshot,” he said in 2008, even when there’s no Goliath in the room. Or there’s the designated Goliath, the ONE the Davids decide is against them or have let them down.

Let’s remember, there are some interesting characters in Congress who have said, done and signed a lot of things and are still at their desks. I suppose that’s the beauty of elected office vs. an appointment, even a not so prominent appointment as advisor. [Take that as a hint.] But then there was that Iraq and WMD thing. Who blew the whistle then? And wasn’t that Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calling off the dogs in 2006 when the Democratic majority assumed power, before November 2008? “Gossip Girl” rules.

I’ve rarely seen anyone really hit the skids when something like this happens. In fact it seems it does more personal good than harm depending on the character of the individual and his/her ability to take the lesson and rise above it.

Even on his way out, Van Jones still has a plan:
On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.

I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to ‘stay and fight.’ But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.

It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement. I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.

Anybody remember the story of Br’r Rabbit and the tar baby? Tell the story to Pookie and the polar bears.

Lickity split!

Leave a Reply