One of the (many) irritating things about being a Republican in the liberal Bay Area is the certainty that if there is a story out there that makes conservatives look stupid -- like the protests against President Obama's Tuesday speech to America's students -- then you know that wherever you go, folks are going to ask you about that particular flap.
What do you think about Obama's speech to students? Or what about those nutty town hallers? Or what about those nasty people who claim Obama wasn't born in Hawaii?
I'm supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to prove that, unlike "the mob," I'm a reasonable conservative, a good conservative -- perhaps even worthy to be included at the table when Bay Area luminaries look askance at middle America. All I have to do is behave myself and confirm their belief that everything would be right in the world, were it not for the right's great unwashed.
Which is why I love the Van Jones brouhaha. Jones tendered his midnight resignation over the Labor Day weekend as Obama's "green jobs" czar after conservatives unearthed an embarrassing paper trail detailing his fringe political beliefs. Now the shoe is on the other foot -- except instead of "birthers," the left has to deal with 9/11 "truthers."
When the left didn't own Washington, liberals had the luxury of ignoring their fringies. Now that Obama has put a true believer on the federal payroll, however, the free ride is over and the spotlight is harsh.
It would be wrong not to dwell on some of Jones' more interesting public moments. In 2004, Jones signed a petition that suggested that people in the Bush administration "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." Last week, Jones released a statement in which he asserted that he did not agree with the petition "and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever." And yet he allowed his name to remain as a signatory for years.
At a Berkeley event in February, Jones called Republicans and himself "---holes." He issued an apology for that statement as well. Those "offensive words," Jones said in a statement released to Politico.com, "do not reflect" the Obama administration's views or his own experience.
Also damning: A column by The Chronicle's Chip Johnson that reported on a 1999 protest organized by Jones in support of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Of course, in the Bay Area, Jones' politics aren't all that unusual. He could easily fit in with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (which passed a resolution naming a day in Abu-Jamal's honor). But inside the Washington Beltway, only amateurs and extremists believe it is acceptable to assert that the Bushies chose not to prevent the attacks on the twin towers or that Abu-Jamal -- who was found with a gun and a gun-wound to the chest at the scene where Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was fatally shot in 1981 -- is a political prisoner.
Those who vetted Jones for the Obama administration may not have seen those views as problematic before, but they know better now.
Don't cry for Jones. His co-believers already are framing Jones as a victim and a martyr. No doubt he will become a darling on the far left's speaking circuit. Sooner or later, every ideology gets its very own Miss California.
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