Boy, did Republicans and conservatives blow it in the Van Jones affair.
A brief recap might be in order. Until early September, Jones held the job of special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation in President Barack Obama’s administration. Jones also served on the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
That was before he was “outed” by several sources as some kind of left-wing nut job who signed a petition all but accusing officials in the administration of President George W. Bush of not only having advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but also of allowing them to happen. And speaking to a crowd in Berkeley some years back, Jones called Republicans — every Jack and Jill among us — a derogatory term that’s also a synonym for a well-known bodily orifice.
Republicans and conservatives seemed especially indignant about Jones’ Berkeley action, though I’m hard-pressed to understand why. We all know there were Republicans in the Bush administration who believed exactly the same thing about all Democrats, only they had the good judgment — and, even better, good taste — not to utter such things in public.
So once the furor hit the airwaves and newsstands, Jones decided it was best that he resign. But he felt compelled to throw himself a pity party first.
“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy,” Jones said, “opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortion to distract and divide.”
Well, Jonesy, me lad, you know how we bodily orifices are. You’ll forgive me if I don’t break down sobbing “boo, hoo, hoo” and whining with you.
But did Republicans and conservatives do themselves a favor by getting this whining weirdo cast out of the White House?
Before Jones resigned, Missouri Sen. Christopher Bond, according to a USA Today story, “said Congress should investigate Jones’ fitness for the job.” In the same news story, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence said “Jones’ extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate.”
A place in the Obama administration is PRECISELY where I wanted Jones. What’s more important to Republicans and conservatives: Jones’ departure from the White House in September 2009 or Obama’s departure from it in January 2013?
Let me put it another way: What good does it do to celebrate and whoop up nailing Jones now if, on Jan. 21, 2013, Obama is taking the oath of office for his second term as president?
Here’s how I would have preferred that Republicans and conservatives handled the Jones affair: Do nothing now, just keep a record of everything the guy did or said, both in the past and during his time working for the Obama administration.
Then in 2012, around the time of say, oh, the Democratic National Convention or sometime during the postconvention presidential campaign, bring up the Jones matter, i.e., what he said about Republicans being bodily orifices and his signature on that 9/11 “truther” statement. I’d have even thrown in Jones’ support of Mumia Abu Jamal, the convicted murderer of Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner. (Obama, to his credit and to my knowledge, never weighed in on the Abu Jamal case during his entire political career. The president knows a losing — and bogus — political cause when he sees it.)
Then, I’d have nailed Obama for hiring Jones in the first place, charging the president with speaking the language of moderation and conciliation while nominating and appointing people who believe just the opposite. Obama appoints people, I would have charged, who believe all members of the opposition party are bodily orifices, a view hardly compatible in a two-party system and one that flies in the face of the president’s avowed desire for bipartisanship.
Obama appoints Supreme Court justices who are either closet or overt white-male bashers. I’d have thrown Jones, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and her problems with white male judges, and everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at Obama at the right time: 2012.
Of course, the opposition would charge Republicans and conservatives with waiting so long just so they could play politics with the issue. And my response would be: So what? What’s your point?
We’ve got an election to win.
Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.