He worked as Barack Obama’s green energy czar and now he’s linked to the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, praising the movement as one “to save the middle class” and calling for an “October Offensive” or “American Autumn” — but Van Jones is still a virtual unknown to Vice President Joe Biden.
The poor gaffe-prone guy. This morning in an interview with Jack Harris of 970 WFLA in Florida, Biden referred to “Van Jones … whoever he is.” When the host pointed out Jones used to work in the administration, the veep, apparently still unabashed, responded, “Oh is that — all right.” Don’t miss the co-host’s chuckle at about 0:52.
For the record, according to the White House web site, Vice President Biden and Van Jones have not only worked in the same administration, in the same building, but hey traveled the country together. In May of 2009, they were in Denver. …
The Daily Kos also reported that Joe Biden, Van Jones, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis all spoke in Denver while announcing an additional $4 billion in stimulus funding for public housing.
(For the record, I first learned of Van Jones from a glowing portrait of the czar in Oprah’s magazine, O. When I later learned a little more about what the man advocates, the episode served as a reminder to diversify and validate sources because everybody has an angle on everything.)
But while Biden’s laughable forgetfulness certainly was the headline in his remarks, his comments on the Tea Party were notable for an entirely different reason: They were remarkably civil, a very far cry from the sentiments he expressed at the end of the debt ceiling debate when he allegedly called Tea Partiers in Congress “terrorists.”
“I don’t disrespect the Tea Party,” Biden said this morning. “I think the Tea Party and the Van Jones folks are different hats of the same concern. There’s an overwhelming frustration. There’s a great frustration here in America that the two parties haven’t been able to get very much moving. We have been in this period where there’s just nothing but fighting. So, you have, on the one hand, Van Jones’ guys — whoever he is — the point is, talking about the excesses of Wall Street and there’s some truth in what he says and there’s truth in what the Tea Party says.”
Now, I object to Biden’s first sentence; I’d say he frequently does disrespect the Tea Party. But I appreciate that he’s acknowledging the truth in the Tea Party message. Could it be that, in an effort to legitimize the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, some on the left will have to at last admit the Tea Party grew out of honest frustration with out-of-control spending and a government so unresponsive to the will of the people as to cram a massively unpopular health care overhaul through Congress?
In the meantime, allow me to suggest the Tea Party should not lend its credibility to the anti-capitalism rebellion. Van Jones claims the Wall Street occupation is an answer to the Tea Party, but at no Tea Party rally ever have 700 protesters been arrested. At no Tea Party rally ever has the suggestion been made to bring back the guillotine. Tea Partiers receive the dirt — labels of “racists,” “terrorists,” “tyrants,” “the real enemy” — but they very rarely dish it. The movements might be similar in that they give voice and visualization to the dissatisfaction of a nation in economic turmoil, but the methods and solutions of the two could not be more disparate.