Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Van Jones, the A-Word, and the C-Word
Van Jones, The A-Word, and the C-Word.
So Van Jones, Obama's Green Jobs man, has resigned because some Republicans got their undies in a bunch about some of the things he's done. Most of the media reports about the resignation have focused on these two things:
1) He signed a petition asking for investigation into how much the Bush administration knew beforehand about the 911 attacks.
2)He called the Republicans assholes and was videotaped doing it.
I'm not even going to talk about #1 Since when is it 'un-American' to try and find out the truth? The way I learned it growing up in the American school system, it's un-American to NOT try and find out the truth, even if that truth has to do with your own government.
Let's move on to #2. He called the Republicans assholes and was videotaped doing it.
The A-word came out of Van Jones' mouth in response to a question from an audience member about why the Democrats couldn't get bills passed with so many of them in office but the Republicans have always been able to push forward their agenda with far fewer people.
"Because the Republicans are assholes," he said, adding, "as a political science term."
I do not see Van Jones' use of the word 'asshole' here as an insult to Republicans, but rather a backhanded compliment. From what I understand, he was saying they are willing to be tough where the democrats are more prone to slide into divisive wimpdom.
Guess it has to do with George Lakoff's Republicans= Strict Father, Dems=Nurturing Mother model of political rhetoric, but as usual the Republicans are playing a meaner game of hardball than the Dems, who in the current administration seem more intent on conciliation than on sticking with the agenda of change they were elected for.
And here's something I still don't get:
Folks like Rush Limbaugh and Tom Sullivan can make on- the- air references comparing the president of the United States to Hitler, a mass murderer of 6 million people, and that's okay. But Mr. Jones compares Republicans to a humble but crucial bodily part, and he suddenly has to resign.
I've never figured out why we humans are more ashamed of our bodily parts than we are of our mass murderers. But that's a whole 'nother rant.
I'll try to stick to Mr. Jones here.
He followed his A-word comment up by saying "And those of us who are not Barack Obama need to start being a little more uppity."
In other words, the Democrats need to learn something from the Republicans: start acting more like assholes, get a little uppity.
Well we all see where Van Jones' uppitydom got him. Right out of the Obama administration. Which makes Obama right now look like the opposite of uppity.
I'm tempted here to join Van Jones himself and some of my liberal friends who are saying the Democrats need to stop being so compromising with the Republicans and stand up for some of the things we elected them for, even if it means being a little more 'uppity', a little more like, uh, the A-word.
Very tempted. I would like, for instance, to have seen the Obama administration stand up for Van Jones, who dared to link 'social justice 'issues with green solutions, like keeping ex-cons out of prison by getting them jobs in wind and solar power.
I would definitely like Obama to stand up for public health insurance, despite the massive rattle of empty teacups that has occurred at his town hall meetings.
I also understand that Obama was elected on a platform of 'uniting the country' after the divisiveness of the Bush years. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and not call him a 'sell-out' or any of those other things he is getting branded with on the left. I'll allow that his willingness to compromise with people I may not agree with could stem from his desire to extend the Kumbaya Moment we all had back in January, when Democrats and Republicans alike were willing to give the man a chance, because, well, he was Making History and he wasn't George Bush.
I like that Obama is willing to listen to people I don't agree with. I really do.
I like ,for instance, the way Obama handled the confrontation between the white policeman James Crowley and the black professor Henry Gates. Have them both sit down and have a couple of beers together, get them to talk about it. You sit on this side and drink your brand of beer and I'll sit on this side and drink mine and we'll both learn how to talk to each other while drinking two different brands of beer.
Obama should have done the same with Glen Beck and Van Jones. Have them both sit down together and drink their different brands of beers and have a conversation. Only do it on national TV in a civilized manner so we can both see for ourselves what each of these guys has to say for themselves and to each other.
Instead,by accepting Van Jones' resignation, he effectively let Glen Beck come roaring in like the town drunk and spill his own brand of beer all over Jones, Obama, and a good many of the rest of us.
One of the big scary skeletons that Glen Beck brought shaking and rattling out of Van Jones closet and aired on Fox TV was that Jones had been a member of a communist/anarchist "revolutionary"group called STORM, a group that says in their own manifesto that they believe in change through the democratic process and makes no mention of throwing molotov cocktails or blowing up buildings.
In other countries of the world, ( backwater places like France and Sweden) the Socialists, the Communists and the Greens can sit down with representatives of the other political parties, just like Henry Gates and James Crowley sat down together, and make a government together.
Okay, it's not always so civilized but at least they are having the conversation.
But not here. Publicly accusing someone of EVER having been a Communist or Socialist is still tantamount to waving a national sex offender registry list around with that person's name on it.
Horrors! Those same "Communists" who were getting outed from so many closets in the 1950's have apparantly found their way into Obama's cabinet. Thank god for those brave men like Glen Beck in their white sheets,er I mean white hats, er well, white something.
Glen Beck has already promised the witch hunt won't stop with Van Jones,whom he called "the first stop" on his crusade to "examine" the members of Obama's advisory team.
In one Fox News segment , Glen Beck and two female analysts talk about the 'wacky' people in the Obama administration, Van Jones being one of the wackiest. This is, curiously, the same kind of epithet that was hurled against Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor as they lobbied to get some of the things done that we now take for granted, like
social security, unemployment insurance. Eleanor, in fact, received particular abuse from folks who told her she should 'stay home and knit' instead of publicly speaking out.
I wondered, as I watched these two female policy analysts vent their views on Glen Beck's show, where they themselves would be if a few wacky people hadn't pushed the unpopular views that women have a place in the public arena in addition to the home.
But these are fearful times. And in fearful times, it is easy to fall backwards, into divisive bogeyman words of the past, like "Communist" and "Hitler" instead of facing an uncertain future and together looking for solutions which will move this country forward.
We needed Van Jones, precisely because he was willing to reinvent himself and his political idealogy for a new era and talk about "green" solutions that will move us forwards, not backwards to an era of witch-hunts and hysteria.
Mr. President, I don't agree with you on this one.
But I'm still hoping.