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Linda Milazzo

Linda Milazzo

Posted: September 6, 2009 07:19 PM

Obama Swiftboats Van Jones


I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'

En route home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.

The news of Van Jones' resignation hit me hard. I was particularly bothered by this title by Ryan Grim on the Huffington Post, reporting on Jones' resignation: "Glenn Beck Gets First Scalp: Van Jones Resigns." While I understand how Beck's campaign against Jones might lead Ryan to this conclusion, Ryan and I view this differently.

For me, Jones' resignation isn't a testament to the frenetic dry-drunk tirades of a delusional Fox employee. For me, Jones' resignation was due to the Obama administration's failure to rightfully and necessarily defend a valuable member of its team. Just like it did with humanitarian and foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, in March of 2008, the Obama team sacrificed Van Jones, another humanitarian.

Van Jones was The People's best hope in this Obama administration. Unlike Obama's many remnants from the George(s) Bush and Bill Clinton years; unlike Obama's Democratic party and AIPAC insiders like Rahm Emanuel, and unlike Obama's corporate insiders like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Van Jones was Obama's lifelong tireless advocate for the people -- the member of the administration who was most immune to corporate enticement. Jones had dedicated his life to defend the poor and disenfranchised, and was NEVER a seeker of fortune or fame.

But fame found Jones, anyway, among the wide population of environmentalists, social justice advocates and general do-gooders, because Van did everything so much better. His brilliance, vibrance, and inescapable charisma captivated thousands of admirers at major events where he spoke jubilantly and worked tirelessly to inspire acts of compassion and dedication to public service. Van Jones is Kennedy-esque much more than Barack Obama.

Sadly, after Jones' resignation, I'm certain many will question his tenaciousness and fortitude. But that would be foolish. Even a cursory glance at Jones' vast accomplishments will tell you he's a man of action who won't be held back.

In Jones' resignation statement he said:

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.

The line that most captures my attention here is: "I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past." On this line, Van and I disagree. I see it as just the opposite. I believe Van's colleagues, knowing what an incredible talent he is, and what a GOOD man he is, SHOULD have fought for him. The entire Obama administration SHOULD have fought for him. But they didn't. Instead they cow-towed to a screeching, frequently weeping, mostly lying, dry-drunk who hallucinates false images on buildings and calls our first Black president a racist.

Witness for yourselves as Keith Olbermann brilliantly exposes how this deranged Fox News emissary sees hidden messages on buildings. What better proof could there be that this person is unfit to appear on the public airwaves:

I ask you, Ryan, do you really accept the pretext that this delusional hack was responsible for Jones' resignation -- or was it more President Obama's failure to take this frenzied Fox-Trot to task and silence him through an inspired revival of truth using the strength of his character, his oratory gifts, and his intellectual prowess? Jones was swiftboated by the man who hired him -- not by a right wing lunatic you have potentially empowered. It's Obama's failure to fight back that led to Jones' demise, as John Kerry's similar failure led to Kerry's demise in 2004, and as Obama's similar failure will lead to Obama's demise in 2012 if he continues on his high road of passivity.

Like Kerry, Obama's high road is leading up a very steep slope, down which he's likely to fall. He sacrificed Jones for fears of ties to progressives. But what Obama fails to understand is that progressives were the catalysts pushing hardest to save Kerry and demanding that Kerry fight, just as progressives have been the catalysts pushing hardest to save Obama and demanding that Obama fight. Has Obama learned any lessons from the passivity that led to John Kerry's demise?
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At the time of this embrace, when Kerry endorsed Obama, both men vowed the swiftboat was a thing of the past. But it's obviously not, for Obama has been swept off course, sacrificing his promises, his values, and the most valiant PEOPLE's advocate he had brought on board.

In March of 2008, during the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton primaries, Harvard professor, Samantha Power, another human rights advocate, was sacrificed by the Obama machine for making an off-the-record remark to a Scottish journalist regarding then Senator Clinton. Power, who returned to work in an advisory capacity in the Obama administration in November of 2008, is a Pulitzer award winning journalist whose foreign policy expertise is the study of genocides -- specifically Darfur and Armenia.

At the time of Ms. Power's permitted swift departure from the Obama campaign, I witnessed how disloyal and weak Obama was when he didn't step forward to support this valiant woman who was a hero for those in need. Power was not just brilliant. She was a brilliant humanitarian, much like Van Jones. When I contrast Obama's lack of loyalty to these social justice giants while they were under fire, to his frequent professed loyalty to Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, while he was under fire, I'm saddened that for Obama, the compassionate types are negligible and the corporate types are not. Power and Jones, the humanitarians, were permitted to leave, but Geithner, former head of the New York Fed with big money ties, was supported and kept on. For me this speaks volumes.

The sacrifice of Van Jones by the Obama administration signals loudly to progressives that we are not his allies; as does his use of drones to kill innocents civilians, his escalation of the ignoble assault on Afghanistan, his continued use of mercenary contractors, his bail-out of financial predators, his sell-out to corporate drug companies and private insurers against the health interests of Americans, and his failure to use OUR political capitol for the common good. These are not minor signs of our differences. They're NEON signs of our differences.

As America implodes with ideological chasms that grow increasingly impassable, I'm losing hope this nation can be saved. I want desperately to be wrong because I desperately love my country. This morning on Fox, Howard Dean told Chris Wallace that the loss of Van Jones is a loss for the country.

I'll expand that to say, the loss of Van Jones is a huge loss for Obama. Obama's one-time supporters on the left, who demand accountability, backbone and honor, are fast jumping ship, as he limply swiftboats away.

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