WASHINGTON -- As he was being badgered by Glenn Beck over his past political associations, former White House adviser Van Jones remained a relatively silent figure, choosing minimal push back against the charges and ultimately resigning.
Even in his post administration career, the former "green jobs" czar, accused of being a subversive communist and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, has preferred cordiality to indignation. His first public speech was noteworthy for the fact that he referred to Beck as his "fellow countryman."
“I see you, and I love you, brother,” Jones said. “I love you and you cannot do anything about it."
So it is more than a bit uncharacteristic that Jones is now offering a more forceful condemnation of Beck and his show, just as the host is leaving his perch at Fox News. At last week's Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, a gathering of progressive activists and bloggers, he challenged Beck to a debate. On Monday, he parlayed that challenge into a 30-second television ad, sponsored by MoveOn.org, in which, speaking directly to the camera, he again targets Beck:
Glenn Beck has spent a lot of time repeating lies about me. I can handle attacks on me, but last week Beck attacked the American Dream itself. Now that's an attack on millions of hard working Americans who just wanna give their kids a better life. So today I'm issuing a challenge to Glenn Beck to debate anytime, anywhere, about our nation's future. I want the American Dream to be real again for all Americans. So Glenn: you ready to talk this out?
A MoveOn official tells The Huffington Post that the group will try to get the ad placed on Beck's show, which ends on June 30. If Fox rejects the ad (and it may not, considering the testy relationship the network's PR department has with the departing host) the group will make contingency plans, the official said.
As for why Jones is doing this now, more than two years since leaving the White House, the answer has more to do with organizational objectives than, say, resolving a lingering personal vendetta. MoveOn is launching its Rebuild the Dream campaign this week, designed to direct the national political narrative away from deficit reduction and on to job creation. A Jones-Beck dispute gives the effort a certain flair, if not a prominent, easy foil.