Van Jones resigns under fire.
I met Van Jones in 2005 at a progressive funders conference in CA, where I had been invited as the guest of Tracy Gary. Van spoke and was clearly a rising star. A couple of years later at another progressive conference, this time at Holyhock, I met Ali-Chagi-Starr, an activist who worked with Van. She was carrying on quite consciously the tradition of nonviolent protest, teaching protesters how to dance in the face of police or military forces with guns, tear gas, etc. Van wrote, or caused to be written, a book on Green Jobs. I recall reading it in amazement at how smooth and empty was its rhetoric. He was clearly learning how to play the game of politics, big on phrases, low on substance, the confrontational, black activist submerged now in the Yale educated JD, moving through phrase making into the national political scene, as a post-racial man of color. You can see how studiously bland his bio became. He was seen with Clinton and others. Then into the Obama administration.
I am interested to see what lessons Van draws. To be blander yet? To apologize more profusely. To put more air between himself and people like Tracy or Ali? Or, will he return to the progressive cause with wisdom on how to have a greater impact, without sacrificing the brio? The challenge we face is that the national frame of debate includes the Palin fringe to the right, with their teabag parties, but not the Van Jones fringe to the left. Still, Green Jobs is a nice phrase and will continue to be milked.