Van Jones was an early member of the President’s advisory circle who got bounced by Obama without a second thought when it was revealed that he’d once expressed doubt about the official 9-11 conspiracy theory propagated by the government.
People who had worked with him in the Bay Area were pretty pissed off at the time, since Jones was regarded as a progressive voice among the generally disappointing group of advisers Obama had gathered around him.
This was early in the administration, after Obama had named people such as Geithner and Vilsack to his cabinet but before he’d initiated any policies or actions from the White House. People were puzzled but still hopeful. Man, that sure was a long time ago.
Jones has been busy over the past three years, building organizations and writing a book. The book is an attempt to analyze the ‘Age of Obama’ and explain ‘what went wrong.’
Guess what? It turns out that the failure of the Obama presidency is actually our fault. The rest of us, those who worked for him, contributed to his campaign, and voted for him, did not follow through.
In order for Obama to actually do the things he promised, according to Jones, he needed the rest of us to force him to.
I’m not fucking kidding.
In support of his thesis, Jones recites a bizarre list of stories from ‘history.’ These are presented as examples of how presidents in the past who achieved significant things were only able to do it because they were the fortunate beneficiaries of powerful movements.
Since I’m always interested in learning, I’m most grateful to Jones for teaching me that Roosevelt’s New Deal became a reality because the labor union movement forced him to create it. Lincoln didn’t lead the antislavery movement but responded to it. Nixon did not lead the environmental movement.
Just linking FDR, Lincoln, and Nixon together in the same paragraph made me a little dizzy, so I’m going to take a few deep breaths. Jones posits that anyone we thought of as a political leader in the White House was not actually a leader at all! He was forced to do what he did because he was pushed. Lincoln: doing what he was forced to do. FDR: just following along.
Jones’ thesis is not merely fundamentally wrong, it’s dishonest. It denies that a President leads, that in our history any of these guys got out in front. The President’s responsibility is not to lead but to be willing to follow. Jones says of Obama, “we have a head of state who arguably is willing to be pushed.”
We didn’t push, that was it. If we’d pushed, he’d have fought for universal health care, for extending Medicare or some other form of single payer, but we didn’t. If we’d pushed, he would’ve let the Bush tax cuts for billionaires expire, but we didn’t. We also didn’t push enough to stop the war in Iraq before we were kicked out. We didn’t push enough to avert the destruction of Libya and the murder of its leader. We didn’t push enough on the Bill of Rights; if we had only insisted, the President would never have expanded warrantless wiretapping and allowed CIA intercepting of our e-mail.
It’s all our fault, I see that now thanks to Van Jones. Guantanamo still open, our fault. Deep water drilling, our fault. The Keystone Pipeline, we didn’t complain enough. If only we’d made it plain, he’d never have ordered the federal raids on pot dispensaries, the assassination of Americans, the torture of innocent people.
How in the world could we have expected him to do any of the things he promised he’d do unless we hammered him into it? I wish I’d known.
Back in the days of slavery, which Lincoln never would have ended except that he was forced to, there were essentially two types. Most slaves were field hands. But there were a few, a privileged few, who had some talents and kissed ass in just the right way; these were the house niggers.
I guess Van Jones is trying to work his way back into the house.