Jones, Geithner & Rahm

It's not that I'm a Van Jones fan, but the way that the Obama administration buckles to the rightwing nuts over a few statements the environmentalist made. I can't help but see it in light of how, in the face of actual substantial issue (not paying taxes) that Timothy Geithner was "too important" to fail. It's a systematic failure of this administration.

Van Jones is probably just as important a figure to the environmental movement as Geithner is to Wall Street, and this dosn't bode well for progressive environmental policies.

Who knew that Obama was so wedded to Rahm Emanual? Rham isn't single-handedly making Obama a failure at this point, but it does seem like Obama has become a delegator to a staff that only views things through re-election & money.

Markos:

Once upon a time, this site was focused on "more Democrats", but we are getting a good schooling on the power of bad Democrats to stymie and hamstring the progressive agenda. Hence, we have evolved into "better Democrats".
Good to see.

Glenn:

If one were to analyze matters from a purely utilitarian perspective, one could find ways to justify the White House's attempt to write a health care plan that accommodates the desires of the pharmaceutical and drug industries [mandates (i.e., 50 million forced new customers) plus government subsidies to pay their premiums plus no meaningful cost controls (i.e., no public option)].  All other things being equal, it's better -- from the White House's political perspective -- that those industries not spend vast sums of money trying to defeat Obama's health care proposal, that they not pour their resources into the GOP's 2010 midterm effort, that they not unleash their fully army of lobbyists and strategists to sabotage the Democratic Party.  That's the same calculating mindset that leads the White House to loyally serve the interests of the banking industry that caused the financial crisis (we don't want to make enemies out of of Goldman Sachs or turn investment bankers into GOP funders).  Indeed, that's the same mindset that leads the White House to avoid any fights with the Right -- and/or with the intelligence community and permanent military establishment -- over Terrorism policies (there's no political benefit to subjecting ourselves to accusations of being Soft on Terror and there's plenty of reasons to cling to those executive powers of secrecy, detention and war-making).

In essence, this is the mindset of Rahm Emanuel, and its precepts are as toxic as they are familiar:  The only calculation that matters is maximizing political power.  The only "change" that's meaningful is converting more Republican seats into Democratic ones.  A legislative "win" is determined by whether Democrats can claim victory, not by whether anything constructive was achieved.  The smart approach is to serve and thus curry favor with the most powerful corporate factions, not change the rules to make them less powerful.  The primary tactic of Democrats should be to be more indispensable to corporate interests so as to deny the GOP that money and instead direct it to Democrats.  The overriding strategy is to scorn progressives while keeping them in their place and then expand the party by making it more conservative and more reliant on Blue Dogs.  Democrats should replicate Republican policies on Terrorism and national security -- not abandon them -- in order to remove that issue as a political weapon.

If those Emanuelian premises are the ones that you accept, if you believe that Obama should be guided by base concerns of political power, then you're likely to be satisfied with the White House's approach thus far -- both in general and on health care specifically.  That would also likely mean that you're basically satisfied with the behavior of Democrats during the Bush era, and especially since 2006 when they won a majority in Congress, since that is what has driven them for the last decade: all that matters is that we beat the Republicans and we should do anything to achieve that, including serving corporate donors to ensure they fund Us and not Them and turning ourselves into war-making, civil-liberties-abridging, secrecy-loving GOP clones in the national security realm.

But that isn't what Obama pledged he would do when he campaigned...

...Even for those of you who are willing to justify anything and everything in the name of "political pragmatism," betraying clear campaign commitments and constantly exhibiting contempt for core progressive values doesn't seem to be working very well as a political strategy, to put that mildly.

I realize the links are a bit dated, but I am on a different timeline this summer.

Tags: netroots (all tags)

Comments

40 Comments

Rahm is a toxic influence

That much is clear. The sad thing is, even if Obama hadn't brought him into the administration, he would have been in a position to water down the health care bill coming out of the House.

by desmoinesdem 2009-09-06 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Rahm is a toxic influence

The Cossacks work for the Czar.

by Mitch Guthman 2009-09-06 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Rahm is a toxic influence

Wow that's cryptic.

by Jess81 2009-09-06 11:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Rahm is a toxic influence

Not cryptic.  Not cryptic at all.  Just a shorter way of pointing out that Pres. Obama has the advisers he wants.  He tells those advisers what he wants done.  He knows what his advisers say and do.  The cossacks work for and have always worked for the Czar.

by Mitch Guthman 2009-09-06 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner & Rahm

Ha. I guess I shouldn't be surprised which blogger is inspired to write by this decision. Some of Van Jones' comments were inflammatory. Some of the petitions he signed were far out of the mainstream.

Here is Van's own statement:

   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.

Makes sense to me. By the way, Obama got rid of Richardson and Daschle as well. I have a feeling Van Jones didn't include a lot of these comments Glenn Beck found on his vetting release form.

by Lolis 2009-09-06 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner & Rahm

 The difference is one of how people perceive of WH for forcing him out. It is not perceived as a pragamtism. It is perceived of as this White House is weak. Today, the AP is running  a story that I am starting to see pop up more and more of whetehr the President is a "wuss"  Please don't respond by attacking the source or with snide comment. The point I am making is the same as Glenn Greenwald's. It is one thing to do all of this, attack your base, let go  of what you claim are your core values, etc because you actually are winning, and it is quite another to do it, and have people think of you in those terms while also losing. Right now we have a President going on air this week because he is "desperate for any bill he can get." The words out of the NY Times article from one of his aides. This is not a recipte for governing.

by bruh3 2009-09-06 10:49AM | 0 recs
Uh, signing a truther peitition might have

also been an issue.

by Concern Troll 2009-09-06 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner & Rahm

"if you had asked me in January, "How could Obama bungle this program most thoroughly?", I would have written a prescription that varies little from what we've observed over the last eight months:  

Don't frame the issue, but instead let the radical right backed by greedy industry monsters do it, on the worst possible terms for you.  And to you.  Don't fight back when they say the most outrageous things about your plan.  In fact, don't even have a plan.  Let Congress do it.

Better yet, let the by-far-and-away-minority party have an equal voice in the proceedings, even if they ultimately won't vote for the bill under any circumstances, and even while they're running around trashing it and you in the most egregious terms.  

Have these savages negotiate with a small group of right-wing Democrats, all of them major recipients of industry campaign donations.  Blow off your base completely.  Cut secret sweetheart deals with the Big Pharma and Big Insurance corporate vampires.  

Build a communications strategy around a series of hapless press conferences and town hall meetings, waiting until it's too late to give a major speech on the issue.  Set a timetable for action and then let it slip.  

Indicate what you want in the bill but then be completely unclear about whether you necessarily require those things.  Travel all over the world doing foreign policy meet-and-greets.  Go on vacation in the heat of the battle.  

Rinse and repeat."  

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09 /05-5

by jeopardy 2009-09-06 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner & Rahm

OMG, read the commentary.  It's even funnier:


If his appointment of Sotomayor is any indication, we are going to be stuck with lots of pro-corporate appointments. That is who Obfuck is.


His unending parade of media appearances speaks to his weak ego and desperate need for approval. Is this guy EVER working? It seems like he spends inordinate amounts of time making media appearances giving incomprehensible and nonsensical speeches. At this point in the game, his speeches are so lame and watered down that he can only appeal to the willfully ignorant and the stupid. Everybody else tuned him out a while ago.

He doesn't have the psychological profile of a true leader.

When you add his dysfunctional psych profile to his narcissistic need to cut deals that intentionally destroy the middle class and working people, the people you openly lied to in order to get elected, we are talking major pathology.

I don't think sociopath is too far off the mark here.


The lack of a White House voice makes me wonder if as DMG says, he's the worst of all sell-outs, or terribly advised, in which case he's a patsy to Axelrod and the Mossad agent, who apparently are total corporate stooges and strategic idiots.


I dont think I'm gonna stick around the USA forever to see how it plays out. It's gotten real old. It's not just Obama. Pelosi, Reid, and the bluedogs need to all be purged. Single-payer NY Wiener(sp?) in Congress for president NOW. I hope the dems get annihilated in 2010. They deserve it. I'm about ready to go for Ron Paul.

""Rahm Emanuel once famously averred that 'You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

That's straight Chicago Boys talk. See Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.

These people, including Obama, are not stupid, nor are they fools.

He was black. He became the President. The circle in now complete, and African Americans have now "arrived". From slave, to Slavemaster.

That's just from moving my scrollbar at random.  The commentors fit the oddest political profile.

by Jess81 2009-09-06 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner & Rahm

Obama avoids "controversies," yet winds up in them anyway.

And it looks like the public option is truly dead after Axelrod's comments today.

by esconded 2009-09-06 07:59AM | 0 recs
There has been a shift in the debate

it is no longer about the substance of legislation but whether Obama has the spine required to fight his enemies to see his agenda through. As of right now, he is acting like a jelly-fish.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: There has been a shift in the debate

Human beings, by and large, like to be led.  They like their leaders to inspire their confidence -- even when doing so takes the form of the most fantastically shallow dress-up kind of blowhard buffonery, à la George W. Bush -- so that they don't have to think too much about how little personal confidence they themselves actually possess.  

Obama is the complete antithesis of this model of the presidency.  

He is Harry Reid's incontinent grandmother as president.  

He is Neville Chamberlain's squirrely little nephew knocking shit over in the Oval Office while he plays "Mr. President", in-between episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants.  

He is a bowl of Jell-O.  That someone forgot to put in the fridge.  

He exhibits no competence as a chief executive.

He inspires no confidence as a national leader.  And, increasingly, his credibility is coming into question.  Who wants to vote for that?  

A related problem is that he loves to flash that big toothy grin of his right before his venomous adversaries knock his choppers back into his head.  

I'm trying to imagine what a wimpier president would look like, and having a very hard time coming up with an answer.  

I'm trying to imagine how the regressive right could possibly bathe their country's president in a more acidic pool of vitriol, and I'm having a difficult time topping their assertions that he's out to kill the elderly while simultaneously indoctrinating grade-schoolers into the ranks of the Revolutionary Spartacist League.  

I'm trying to conceive of how vacant a White House could possibly be of any whiff of push-back against these assaults, and I can't quite envision it.  

Maybe if they went out and did some real scandals and filmed it all as a gift for the GOP?  Perhaps they could dig up Vince Foster's body and murder him all over again, this time on video?  

Or they could hire Ken Starr to just run amok in the White House for a few years, looking for anything remotely juicy?  

But could Obama's Keystone Kops even do a scandal properly?  I'm not sure, but I'm pretty confident the public is losing trust in this guy as their Big Daddy Protector.  

Who in America would vote for this eunuch to be in charge of keeping their little suburban Happy Meal-stuffed brats safe from tawny evil-doers with bad intentions?  

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09 /05-5

by jeopardy 2009-09-06 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: There has been a shift in the debate

Yeah I read that.  The guy definitely has issues.  He ends it all with a prediction that we're all going to end up living in a fascist state.

by Jess81 2009-09-06 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: There has been a shift in the debate
Does Obama have the spine? Why doe he keep caving?
Beacause the only reason you little old lefties in tennis shoes are watching his back is to better aim your paring knives.
by spirowasright 2009-09-06 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: There has been a shift in the debate

You do realize in your infinite wisdom that Van Jones is the first of many administration officials to be targeted by the right wing. When the WH dissociates itself from someone based on the attacks of a former alcoholic lunatic, we have a problem of courage and resolve.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Sweet Jesus

 I've never seen such a sad fucking bunch of winners.

by QTG 2009-09-06 08:34AM | 0 recs
These are one of those rare times

where I have to agree somewhat with Glenn Beck, sorry. I had no problem with him calling Republicans assholes, but the other stuff, just scary.

by DTOzone 2009-09-06 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner & Rahm

The guy sunk himself when he aligned with "truthers"...just wacky stuff those people believe.

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-09-06 09:10AM | 0 recs
birther and thuther bullshit

It's not just Rahm.

The whole "truthers" and "birthers" distraction-attackers are a pathetic bunch of attack-assholes on both sides. Its a sad fact when people push such desperate alignments into partisan attacks in place of actual ideological disagreements. And the thing is, the fiasco its exactly this sort of attack of personal politics (Rush Beck, Birthers...) is what has served to bring about disassociation with the Democratic brand more than anything this year. That, along with Obama's lack of accomplishment, is what's bringing him down.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-09-06 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

Wait, what?  So now Obama was right to get rid of Van Jones?

by Jess81 2009-09-06 11:52AM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

The decision regarding this one instance does not matter as much as the pattern of behavior. You and others keep wrting here as ifeach incident is a one off, and there is no other context in which a greater pattern can be viewed. Indeed, you try to innoculate yourself from this conversation by describing any attempt to assertain the interests involved and perceptions of those interest as trying to go inside Obama's head rather than simply paying attention to his behavior in the last 9 months. This is where it is becoming pointless to debate you: If you are unwilling to ever link all the accrued information together to understand what's happening, then each instance we discuss these things will be reduced to mindless MSM analysis of pretending the world begins at the start of any given article and ends when the article is over. Only to rebegin again the next week with a new narrtive.

by bruh3 2009-09-06 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

it never ceases to amaze me that in the face of mounting evidence of spinelessness from the WH there are actually people out there whose first reaction to step back and applaud the spinelessness.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

Well, but in this case although they may  be right. That the guy saying the things he did was not worth the WH time. The problem is that this is not the only incident to happen wherein the WH seems all to willing to capitulate.

The chief argument seems to be at this point "Let's pretend that every moment is tableau rasa"a nd there is nothign upon which one gain gauge the bigger picture.  One can argue that the full picutre is not yet developed but to argue that there is no one is absurdity.

My problem with the posters is that they talk either in a selective presentation fo the facts, attack the source or the messenger writing about the source or they deny all facts all together. I call the later the Denialists. They spent most of the debates telling others they are wrong no matter how many links, sources, etc are provided. Their sole imput is "I don't believe you/"

by bruh3 2009-09-06 04:17PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

well then vet these people better. It is either a vetting problem or a problem with resolve. How many top level Bushies resigned in the face of mounting evidence of corruption, abuse of power or perjury? Yes Van Jones said something about the Bush administration but that was in no way a conflict of interest to what he was doing. In the end the WH caved to the smear campaign launched by an alcoholic lunatic. How pathetic is that?

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

Many many Bushies resigned early in the process.

by lojasmo 2009-09-06 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

Really who resigned for 9/11? Who resigned for Valerie Plame? Who resigned for the bad intelligence in the CIA? Who resigned for the attorney general firings? Who resigned for Jack Abramoff? Name them.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 06:52PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

In fact name the Bushies who resigned early under pressure from progressive groups.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

The best one can come up with are the resignations because peo felt one or another cabinet member was too liberal in that they were telling the truth. I can think of, for example, Christine Todd Whitman, whom I believed was pushed out over climate change, and Collin Powell, who finally grew a concious about the Iraqi situation, but the Cheney people destroyed him in the press through right wing rags like the Washington Times. There was a dcumentary about Powell PBS ab out how the same right wing machine would undermine any decision by even moderate Republicans to move the debate towards a empirical based analysis of foreign policy because they felt it threatened Chenney and his allies Condi Rice and Rumsfeld.

by bruh3 2009-09-06 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

Yeah there are those, Eric Shinseki (sp?), Paul O'Neill etc who did not toe the WH's line. However no one to my knowledge was sacked due to progressive pressure or even incompetence for that matter.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 07:17PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

Agree. Part of the problem with the debates here seems to be a lack of historical contextualization.

by bruh3 2009-09-06 08:08PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

For that matter who's next? Should we set up a next 'czar' to resign watch?

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

I am simply pointing out in this instance they ar eright that the aid was polticially charged. I agree, however, with the thrust of your point that where does it end? The answer is we don't know because this WH has no problem bending over backwards to please its enemies. This one example is not really the point. It is that it is one of many examples that should concern us with regard to the WH's willingess to bend to far right interests.

by bruh3 2009-09-06 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

And again "stepping back and applauding the spinelessness" isn't really accurate attached to a post that I've made.  In fact the only opinion I've offered on it is that it's playing out a lot like Lani Guinier did.

You and bruh3 seem to be more interested in attacking people who don't share your view of politics as a soap opera then actually defending your point of view.  Everyone ELSE is wrong, always.

by Jess81 2009-09-08 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

"You and others keep wrting here as ifeach incident is a one off, and there is no other context in which a greater pattern can be viewed."

Would you mind giving me an example of that?

by Jess81 2009-09-08 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

The point is as tarheel noted: "In the end the WH caved to the smear campaign launched by an alcoholic lunatic. How pathetic is that?"

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-09-06 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: birther and thuther bullshit

The last I heard number independent organizations including the NAACP was willing to fight on behalf of Van Jones. His resignation was reflective of the fact that he did not have the confidence of his boss. It is just sad state of affairs. Now what? Do we set up a pool, who will be the next 'czar' to resign? Politico already has named three more, John Holdren, Cass Sunstein and Mark Lloyd.

by tarheel74 2009-09-06 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner et al

Every extreme needs its opposite; it's telling that Greenwald, in defending Van Jones from "scurrilous" attacks, basically sets up a different scapegoat - Rahm Emanuel and the "dangerous philosophy" of corporate apologists.

Van Jones resigned because the alternative was to be a distraction. Whether one agrees with his off the cuff assessment or not - though frankly, I don't go around saying "Republicans are assholes" in such broad terms - it was an intemperate remark for a government official. And that's before signing what, honestly, is an indefensible petition asserting that government leaders knew about 9/11 plans and let them happen anyway.

Let's defend what's worth defending; let's make the effort to implement policies that make sense and support people who are focused on service. I think the ultimate point, here, is that there's a role for Van Jones in politics; it may just not be, though, a role in a Presidential Administration.

Yes, Van Jones was targeted by a conservative attack machine that's determined to undermine the Obama presidency. But being targeted is only part of what happened here. And as much as I deplore the attack machine, I'm not up for pretending that there's not a problem with Van Jones. And slinging more attacks - or blaming some sort of corporatist Obama agenda - seems beside the point. Knowing what we do, knowing the controversies, it's unlikely Van Jones could just stay on in his job. Blame the attack machine for digging... but beyond that... this is about what was dug up.

It's unclear to me what we want here - no digging? no questions... or no standards? Or some sort of flexible standard? And how is that defined?  I think what we might want, unfortunately, is to keep the war going... and that, it seems to me, is not really a productive approach. It's certainly not what I signed on for.

by nycweboy1 2009-09-06 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Jones, Geithner et al

Greenwalds note above was written about two weeks ago, and has to do with a Krugman article, not Van Jones.

Your defense though that "the alternative was to be a distraction" is symptomatic of centrist tendencies that believe conflict can be avoided in politics.

The point is that a President and an administration set the threshold of what is going to be background noise in the battle, and what is going to substantive enough that they engage and defeat or give in to.

This affair is smalltime noise, and Van Jones seems very media savvy. The administration ought to have used the occasion to send him out to do battle on the issues. Instead, we get capitulation to Beck, and two campaign hacks out speaking for the administration, Gibbs and Axelrod, which is pathetic.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-09-06 04:41PM | 0 recs
You do realize

that the White House made it a point to point out he was not fired. If they were really caving to pressure, they would have stood loud and proud that they got rid of him.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/06/o bama.adviser.resigns/index.html

by DTOzone 2009-09-06 08:22PM | 0 recs
You're right, Jerome

"I became a communist", "I'm a rowdy black nationalist", "Republicans are assholes" and being on a petition alleging that 9/11 was an inside job is no big deal for an adviser to the White House.  You're like a little kid.  You don't get the toy you want from mommy and daddy and you go nuts.  Enjoy the next 4 years.  Be sure to nominate Dean in 2012.  I'm sure he'll win.  

by roger2012 2009-09-07 02:21AM | 0 recs

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