[I'd be happy to forward to Van Jones any comments or words of support people have for him on this painful day.]
I am resigning my post at the Council on Environmental Quality, effective today.
On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.
I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to “stay and fight.”
But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.
It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement. I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.
With that statement issued just after midnight Saturday, the White House’s champion of clean energy jobs, Van Jones resigned. The controversy over past statements was just too great. The Politico reports:
Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, to which Jones was attached, accepted his resignation in a statement released early Sunday. “Over the last six months, he had been a strong voice for creating jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources,” she said. “We appreciate his hard work and wish him the best moving forward.”
I think the NYT lede in its story is just the kind of drama-driven reporting that has poisoned both media coverage and American politics:
In a victory for Republicans and the Obama administration’s conservative critics, Van Jones resigned as the White House’s environmental jobs “czar” on Saturday.
I suppose this may be seen as a “victory” if you are one of those who have no positive agenda for solving our energy and climate problems — see The Audacity of Nope: The GOP channels Groucho Marx, “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” But how can the paper of record declare this a victory for anyone? This ain’t the Roman Coliseum.
Ryan Grim, writing at Huffington Post, notes:
During the presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly threw aides overboard who became political liabilities; White House observers saw Jones’ departure more as a matter of when rather than if.
His fate was sealed when Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to defend him at a recent press conference:
QUESTION: Van Jones. I know he has issued an apology for his proctological remarks, but apparently there is also video of him accusing white polluters of poisoning people of color communities. Does the president still have confidence in this guy?
GIBBS: He continues to work in the administration, and I would refer you to the statement that CEQ put out last night about this.
GIBBS: That’s the Council on Environmental Quality
QUESTION: Yeah, but Robert is that as far as you are going to go with this?
GIBBS: That is the statement that has been put out last night.
QUESTION: The stories on television have been pretty offensive.
GIBBS: And I think if you refer to the statement, he apologized.
QUESTION: Van Jones. His name appears on a 2004 petition, demanding to know the truth about 9/11, whether or not the Bush Administration played a role in 9/11 so as to justify a war for oil. He said in his statement yesterday that he doesn’t agree with that, and an administration source said he didn’t fully read it before he signed it, he agreed to have his name signed to it. Now it comes out today that in 2002 he was on an organizing committee for a 9/11 Truther march. Your administration has been very active in knocking down the so-called Birthers, the people who allege without any evidence, and despite all evidence to the contrary, that the president was not born in the United States. How can the administration tolerate somebody who subscribes to a different insane conspiracy theory, as a senior adviser?
GIBBS: Again, it is not something that the president agrees with, and again I would point you to the statement from CEQ.
QUESTION: How many past statements have to emerge before he no longer has the confidence of the president?
GIBBS: A good question for next time.
Words made Van Jones (see Must Read: Van Jones and the English Language), and words brought him down. A sad day.