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Will Obama Yield to Right-Wing Pressure to Fire Green Jobs Advisor Van Jones?

By September 4, 2009

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Last March, when President Obama selected Van Jones—civil rights attorney, environmental activist and social entrepreneur—to join the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) as special advisor on green jobs, enterprise and innovation, many considered Jones an inspired choice. Now, six months later, Obama may be preparing to show him the door.

When reporters asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday morning whether Jones still has President Obama's confidence, Gibbs would only say that "he continues to work in this administration." Not exactly the full-throated support Jones was likely hoping to hear from the Obama White House.

This controversy has nothing to do with Jones' job performance, his credentials as an expert on green jobs, or the advice he gives the president. No, what is raising questions about Jones' future in the Obama administration are reports of possible links to a group called 9/11 Truth, which claims President George W. Bush and some of his advisors may have deliberately allowed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to happen as a possible pretext for the war in Iraq.

Jones' only link to the group seems to be a 2004 petition he signed, along with several other prominent people, in support of the families that lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, Jones apologized for any misunderstanding his signature on the petition may have caused and tried to set the record straight, saying that the group's allegation of a Bush administration plot "does not reflect my views now or ever."

A second allegation, that Jones helped to organize a 2002 protest march calling for a congressional inquiry into whether the Bush administration played a role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, appears groundless. Earlier this week, in an unrelated situation, Jones apologized for making offensive remarks about Republican lawmakers during a question-and-answer session following an energy lecture he delivered in Berkeley, California, in February—before he joined the Obama administration.

These allegations are the latest in a spirited campaign by television and radio talk-show host Glenn Beck over the last 4-6 weeks to discredit Jones. Beck—a self-styled conservative pundit, who frequently sprinkles his commentary with race-baiting and conspiracy theories—has repeatedly called Jones a racist, an ex-convict, a communist and a radical revolutionary who wants to destroy the United States. Beck, who never lets facts interfere with a good right-wing fantasy, says Jones is unfit for public service.

At a time when America desperately needs to start building a new economy based on sound environmental principles—one that offers opportunities to people of every race and economic background—Obama would be wise to think twice before allowing a controversy stirred up by his political enemies and based on questionable allegations to force him to sever ties with someone as qualified as Van Jones to help lead that change.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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September 5, 2009 at 3:48 am
(1) Keith Schoose says:

What about this comment? “You’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. They always say, ‘We can’t believe it happened here. We can’t believe it’s these suburban white kids.’ It’s only them. Now, a black kid might shoot another black kid. He’s not going to shoot up the whole school.”

The above comment reflects racism. Is racism acceptable?

September 5, 2009 at 6:06 am
(2) 9/11 Truther says:

Until and unless Jones either resigns or is fired, the Obama Administration has lost all credibility. Either Jones was right about 9/11 or he was wrong. If he was wrong, in Obama’s mind, than Jones must go. There is no other way.

September 5, 2009 at 7:12 am
(3) guidoLaMoto says:

The inclusion of this guy in the new administration is just another indication of the inexperience & naivete of Obama and his group. A bigger question than Jones’ lack of social graces & psychotic tendencies is (a)what are his qualifications to serve as an advisor on new environmental technology & jobs (can he even spell envorinmental technology or has he ever had a job?) and (b) how can Congress allow the executive branch to accumulate an unconstitutional, alternate para- govt of over 30 “czars” (shouldn’t they be called “commissars” like all good communists)?

September 5, 2009 at 8:00 am
(4) Heather says:

I love this article. So vidoe of this man saying the things he has, his signature on a document….. these are called questionable allegations?

Well then by all means why not have William Ayers as secratary of education! I mean what evidence is there agianst him, other then his own words, in his own book or him saying in an interview when asked if he regretted weather underground bombings, “we didn’t do enough”.

I mean isn’t that just as much “questionable allegations”?

Now of course, if it were a Repblican, being accused of something with no evidence of any kind is more then enough to prove guilt! You don’t need video or a persons own words in a book, or their signature on a document. The R after their name is more then enough to schedule an execution.

September 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm
(5) Steve says:

Are you (a white environmentalist) out deliberately spraying immigrants with toxic substances for labor day?

That statement alone should get him thrown out on his ear.

September 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm
(6) Hap Smith says:

Your article is so wrong on so many fronts. Glenn Beck laid out FACTS about Van Jones. Did he say Van Jones is a racist, YES he did, because the facts are there including video proof for all to view.
Clearly he (Jones) has less than kind remarks and thoughts about white folks, in fact I would go as far as to say “He hates White people”.. If a white person were to make remarks as disparaging about black folks, where do you think they would be. For one their face would be all over the evening news.
You made a statement sir “At a time when America desperately needs to start building a new economy based on sound environmental principles—one that offers opportunities to people of every race and economic background—Obama would be wise to think twice before allowing a controversy stirred up by his political enemies and based on questionable allegations to force him to sever ties with someone as qualified as Van Jones to help lead that change.” Obama would be wise to vet folks before he has them take a position in the White House sir!..
There are many others we hope will be forced to leave, based on their beliefs of racism and socialism. I will do what ever is needed to keep the pressure on them. The American public is awake sir… We will not be bullied any longer… A note for Van Jones, SEE YA !!!!! Next…..
Obama said “Judge me by the people I surround myself with.” Hmmmmm , now that’s an interesting statement indeed.
Hap Smith
U.S.Marine Corps (retired)

September 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm
(7) Hap says:

Sorry.. I meant to say Larry West. I had a mental slip and wrote Steve..
LARRY you are a cook

September 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm
(8) Jennifer says:

I agree that Jones may not be the best choice for a political appointment, because he doesn’t always say things in the most politically correct way. But as other commenters here have proven, Jones is now being blamed for saying things he didn’t say. If you’re looking to Glenn Beck for the truth–rather than just his opinion–you’re fooling yourself.

September 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm
(9) Sharon says:

As a longtime colleague of Larry West, I enjoyed reading all of Hap’s mistakes and see a strong connection between Hap’s inability to get the facts straight and his admiration for Glenn Beck.

I do agree with Hap about one thing–Larry is indeed a cook, and a very good one. Our family loves his cornbread and apple stuffing.

September 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm
(10) guidoLaMoto says:

Sharon: I don’t believe proper spelling is a requirement to be a good Marine, or to get your point acoss. If you must resort to criticizing his spelling, then your arguements to support your POV can’t be very strong. My hat’s off to Hap.

You also apparently don’t watch the Glenn Beck show. He documented each of his complaints about Jones with a film clip of Jones incrimminating himself in his own words or with a quotation from his writings. These complaints are not allegations, but proven facts.

Having a liberal point of view doesn’t make Larry a bad guy. But there’s a difference between having a liberal point of view and being a cheerleader for the Democrats. The appointement of Jones and several others as “czars” is a disgrace and an insult to all hard working Americans. If Jones is the best example of an “environmentalist” that Obama can produce, it just shows the trouble the environmental movement is in.

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