While I agree that it was best for Van Jones to step down (and, no, I don’t blame the netroots or CAP or anyone else for not standing up for him more), this is such unbelievable bullsh*t (from Joe Klein, natch):
Anyway, Jones: He has, in recent years, done some valuable work trying to steer green jobs into poor communities…but there is a bright line in American political life: Self-proclaimed “communists” need not apply. Communism is too odious and foolish a philosophy for anyone reasonable to believe in, or even to use as red-flag hyperbole, as Jones did after the Rodney King riots of the early 1990s, when he said that he’d been a [black] nationalist, but was now a communist. It’s sort of like a Republican President appointing someone who had said, “I used to be a white supremacist, but now I’m a Nazi.”
So, good riddance. The work of this presidency is too important to be side-tracked by a too-angry blowhard spouting foolish radicalism. The American people voted to give liberalism a chance in the 2008 elections, after 30 years of conservative dominance. If the liberal project is to succeed, it needs to build trust in a populace that–as we’ve seen this summer–can easily be manipulated by right-wing demagogues. That means the President’s personal small-c conservatism is an absolute necessity. It also means that left-extremists have to be clearly rejected. It also means that, even with a Democratic Congress, major policy changes like health care reform have to be implemented carefully–incrementally, if necessary. If the first steps are solid, the pace of reform can pick up over time. There will be missteps along the way; there are in any Administration. A Van Jones or two will slip through the cracks and be given jobs. But if the President can keep his eyes on the prize–at the moment, the moral imperative to provide health care for all Americans–he will probably succeed.
It’s worth noting that the “godfather of neoconservatism”, Irving Kristol, began as a Trotskyite and that many of today’s neonconservatives, whom Joe regards as such serious people, began on the far left (whether they were Trotskyites or Shachtmanites, per se, seems to be a subject of debate). But they’re not black and they hate Arabs a lot, so they’re okay.
I realize that it’s not worth my, or your, time to refute all the garbage that Joe Klein says. But I think that his piece above is typical of the Village obsession with the Black Panthers and Weathermen of yesteryear; Klein doesn’t directly reference this, but it’s pretty clear that’s where the “left-wing extremist” fetish comes from. Since there is no mandatory retirement age for pundits, we will probably be stuck with this for at least another 20 years. But I’m hopeful, that by the year 2030, our public dialog will no longer be dominated by discussion of the 1960s.