Another Labor Day is upon us and that means a little reflection on workers, jobs and the labor movement would be appropriate. Ironically, however, one of the people who is fighting hardest to create more jobs in a new green economy is leaving his job in the White House as Special Adviser to President Obama for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality. In stead of celebrating the birth of a new labor movement—one that brings together former foes in the Democratic tent: labor and environment—we are witnessing the end of a McCarthy-esque witch hunt against Van Jones, a witch hunt spearheaded by Fox News' Glenn Beck.
Perhaps the most disappointing part of Beck's successful campaign against Jones was that it was successful, likely emboldening the likes of Beck and other fear-mongering conservative talk show hosts intent on opposing Democrat policy, regardless of that opposition's impact on the well-being of the country.
Here is what people said about the Van Jones resignation:
Van Jones, former White House special adviser on green jobs:
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.
Glenn Beck, Fox News:
The American people stood up and demanded answers. Instead of providing them, the Administration had Jones resign under cover of darkness. I continue to be amazed by the power of everyday Americans to initiate change in our government through honest questioning, and judging by the other radicals in the administration, I expect that questioning to continue for the foreseeable future.
Howard Dean, Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee:
Well, I was just going to say this guy’s Yale-educated lawyer. He’s a best-selling author about his specialty. I think he was brought down. I think it’s too bad. Washington’s a tough place that way, and I think it’s a loss for the country.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Ten):
Well, I don’t think he’s the issue. I think the czars are the issue. We have about two dozen so-called czars—the pay czar, the car czar, all these czars in the White House.
And that really is an affront to the Constitution, because the Constitution was set up to say that the president is the executive, but the people who manage the government the secretaries, the Cabinet members, of which I was one, have to be approved by the Congress and have to report to the Congress.
John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress:
Van Jones is an exceptional and inspired leader who has fought to bring economic and environmental justice to communities across our country. He has chosen to resign because he believed he was serving as a distraction to the president’s agenda. I respect that decision.
Van was working to build a common ground agenda for all Americans, and I am confident he will continue that work. Unfortunately, his critics on the right could find no common ground with him.
Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director:
This was a lynch mob and, when it started forming a month ago, we didn't take it seriously enough. When I saw the first Glenn Beck piece on Van Jones and the Apollo Alliance as the new vast left-wing conspiracy, I could not take it seriously. Silence enabled Fox to keep pushing.
Image via Center for American Progress Action Fund