Van Jones resigns

How I like to imagine Obama broke the news: “Let me be clear: Pack your sh*t.”

In a letter released just after midnight Saturday, Van Jones, President Obama’s Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality resigned.

“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones wrote. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”

Jones said that he had “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.”

In this case, the “vicious smear campaign” consisted of (a) accurately quoting Jones and (b) citing documents he signed. But no matter. He’s headed for left-wing martyrdom, Trutherism notwithstanding and replete with lies about how Beck supposedly attacked him only after the Color of Change boycott began (wrong) and how the Truther petition itself was credibly challenged by other signatories (wrong twice over). Howard Dean’s already pushing the latter point, in fact, and calls Jones’s resignation “a loss for the country,” which is fitting insofar as Dean-o himself was once a bit warmer to Truther theories than even some lefty commentators could bear.

Ed Driscoll’s got a worthy reaction round-up so I’ll send you there from here. Three meta-points to take away from this, though. One: We were told during the campaign that Wright and Ayers were non-issues because they wouldn’t be part of the administration, but has Wright, for instance, said anything vastly worse than Jones has? If he’s persona non grata on Team Barry, why wasn’t Van the man? Two: As noted by Driscoll and Mickey Kaus and doubtless dozens of others, so astonishing was the press blackout on this story that millions of people will wake up today, see the headline, and wonder, “Who the hell is Van Jones?” This isn’t as sexy a media-bias scandal as Rathergate or the silence on Edwards during the primary, but it’s significant. And three: To keep beating a dead horse, this never would have happened had Jones been forced to sit for a Senate confirmation because the White House never would have nominated him. They knew he was toxic and they knew Republicans would force the press to cover that fact at a hearing. That’s the whole point of having “czars” — to install people in positions of cabinet-level power without having to deal with the Senate’s pesky check-and-balance. It needs to change. Soon.