The key point about the Van Jones affair is what it tells us about Barack Obama. Jones isn’t someone who slipped through the cracks of the vetting process. We know this because, as Scott pointed out earlier today, top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett has said, “So, Van Jones, we were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House; we were watching him. . .for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland.”
Having watched the rise of Van Jones, why did Team Obama nonetheless “recruit” him into the White house? Because what Jones says and believes is well within the range of what Obama believes, and thus not jarrring to him and his crew.
If Jones is now beyond the pale, it is only because the Obama crowd finally hears him through the filter of a controversy. When Obama and company heard him only through the filter of what they believe, there was no controversy because his statements — e.g., his attack on Israeli “occupation” dating back to 1948 and his claim that “U.S. tax dollars are funding violence against people of color inside the U.S. borders and outside the US borders” — are not particularly controversial to Team Obama.
This, of course, is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright phenomenon all over again. Wright’s racist, anti-Israeli, anti-American statements didn’t jar Obama while he was sitting in Wrights’s church for 20 years because they were not that different from what Obama believes. Even when controversy erupted and Obama’s political future was on the line, Obama at first found Wright’s pronouncements no more in need of being “disowned” than his grandmother’s view that she’d rather be driven to work than be panhandled by an aggressive black man at the bus station. It took a shot by Wright at Obama himself to cause the candidate to break with his spiritual mentor.
The Jones phenomenon signifies that, as my friend Bill Otis likes to say, the left “can’t hear itself.” That’s why when it heard Jones, all it detected was “creative ideas” and “energy” to bring to the White House.
To quote Bill again, “Van Jones is simply Jeremiah Wright behind a White House desk.”
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