- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009

Standing by their Van

President Obama’s “green jobs czar” Van Jones says right-wing extremists forced him out of the White House with a smear campaign and some of his supporters are playing the blame game as well.

A day before the resignation was announced, the NAACP issued a strong statement of support for Mr. Jones that used the same kind of language Mr. Jones used in his departing remarks.

“It is sad and unfortunate that our nation’s precious airwaves and cable television time are being occupied with the unscrupulous, diversionary tactics launched by right-wing extremists such as Glenn Beck,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said.

At the center of the so-called “smears” was a 2004 petition Mr. Jones signed for 911Truth.org demanding an investigation into what the government may have done that “deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext to war.” Mr. Jones apologized for signing the petition, but, unconvincingly, told reporters he never subscribed to the group’s views.

One of Mr. Jones’ loudest critics and source of many of the so-called “smears” has been Mr. Beck, who started turning his Fox News microphone against the environmental activist long before his support for the “truther” movement went public. An article at the Huffington Post about the Jones resignation was titled “Glenn Beck gets first scalp: Van Jones resigns.”

On his program Thursday, Mr. Beck linked him to Mr. Obama, reminding his viewers that “during the campaign the president said, ‘If you want to know what my policies are, you have to look at the people I surround myself with.’ So I did.”

“Well, in the case of Van Jones,” Mr. Beck went on, “and several others in this administration, it says that the president has an agenda that is radical, revolutionary, and in same cases, Marxist.”

Liberal bloggers appeared disappointed Mr. Jones left his post.

Firedoglake blogger Jane Hamsher wrote Mr. Jones was being “thrown under the bus by the White House for signing his name to a petition expressing something that 35 percent of all Democrats believed as of 2007 - that George Bush knew in advance about the attacks of 9/11.”

She faulted groups, such as the Center for American Progress, for not defending him publicly. “If these groups, if these liberal leaders, let Jones just hang there while Glenn Beck pounds his chest and celebrates the scalp, we have no liberal institutions,” she said.

Open Left blogger David Sirota called the resignation a “serious tragedy” and said it would create a “chilling effect on the aspirations of other movement progressives.” He also worried that “Jones being forced out will not mollify the racists, crazies, tea baggers, Republican congresspeople and other assorted conservative freakshows - it will only embolden them,” Mr. Sirota said.

Keith’s revenge

Hours after Van Jones resigned and people began crediting Glenn Beck for the “scalping,” MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann started recruiting lefty bloggers to send him dirt on Mr. Beck, his producer Stu Burguiere and Fox News executive Roger Ailes.

The “Countdown” host, who occasionally writes blogs for the DailyKos, fired off an item Sunday morning at 10:14 a.m. titled “Send me everything you can find about Glenn Beck.”

The post immediately generated hundreds of comments from the hard-line liberal blogging community. Mr. Olbermann indicated he’d be making an announcement on his television program about the tipline as well.

“Tuesday, we will expand this to the television audience and have a dedicated e-mail address to accept leads, tips, contacts, on Beck, his radio producer Burguiere, and the chief of his TV enablers, Ailes,” Mr. Olbermann wrote.

9/11 Service Day

This Sept. 11 will be the first time the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York will be officially designated as the National Day of Service and Remembrance and used to support environmental campaigns.

Some conservatives - including Matthew Vadum, who wrote an essay for the American Spectator titled “Obama’s plan to desecrate 9/11” - have viewed the service day with suspicion. Mr. Vadum noted some of the groups involved with it included those with strong ties to the embattled Van Jones, such as the Apollo Alliance and Color of Change.

One of the major campaigns for the service day, promoted by Mr. Jones while he was still at the White House, included “Green the Block,” which launches Sept. 11. “Green the Block” has enjoyed support from the Obama administration: The White House held a press conference Aug. 4 to announce the effort.

It also has a decidedly political bent.

Information made available by Green the Block says it “will encourage education, legislative advocacy, private-sector development and youth activism.” One of the group’s main goals is for Congress to pass “just and equitable climate and energy legislation” because, according to Green the Block, “pollution and poverty hurts everyone, but it hurts low-income and communities of color the most.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com.

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